Sunday, 14 October 2012


This week German private channel RTL world premiered Transporter: The Series, based on the popular Transporter movie franchise created by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. The 12-episode series was filmed in Europe and Canada (in Toronto) for an estimated $43 million budget.

It is co-produced by French company Atlantique Productions and Canadian prodco QVF Inc. with
French private channel M6, RTL, HBO/Cinemax, Astral Television/The Movie Network, and Corus Entertainment/Movie Central

English actor Chris Vance (Prison Break) stars as ex-elite commando Frank Martin, played by Jason Statham in the films. Frank is a professional freelance courier who drives a powerful black Audi and delivers mysterious packages against all odds for shady and dangerous clients. His rules: 1° Never change the deal. 2° No names. 3° Never open the package. In order to do the job with minimal personal interaction, he relies on his trusted handler, Carla (Hungarian actress Andrea Osvárt), who organizes his missions. Paris-born François Berléand reprises his character of Inspector Tarconi from the films and German actor Charly Hübner (The lives of others) plays Dieter, Frank's mechanic.

Helmed by Canadian director Stephen Williams (Lost), the pilot introduces the television Transporter with a cinematic and spectacular pre-credit sequence in the streets of Marseille and in a parking garage, where the aptly cast Vance sets the tone for his Frank Martin by giving a welcome James Bond feel to the role. Frank's first TV mission takes him to Berlin - thanks to international co-production - where he must drive Delia Weigert (Rachel Skarsten) safe to her father, a general and business advisor. The transporter crosses path with the henchmen of a ruthless local mob boss played in minimalist mode by renowned German actor Uwe Ochsenknecht.

« I don't know how to make TV shows -- I let the people who know how to do it take it on and hope they're doing their job, » said Luc Besson to The Hollywood Reporter last year. His Nikita was adapted for television twice, in 1997 and 2010, and now the Transporter movie franchise is rather smartly transposed as a series format. The car stunts (coordinated by Michel Julienne) and well-crafted martial art fights, choreographed by Cyril Raffaelli, are fitted into a standard script written by Alexander Ruemelin and Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie (the Stargate TV franchise).

Without those mandatory ingredients from the films the story sounds like a recycled Largo Winch TV series episode and the talent of François Berléand is regrettably underused in this opener. The effective music is by French composer Nathaniel Méchaly (the two Taken, Colombiana). Overall this premiere is very watchable in its category (1) but can Transporter: The Series deliver such a package every week?

(1) RTL airs Transporter: The Series each thursday in the time slot devoted to the stunt antics of the Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizeï cops. (Review in German) 

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