Every Transporter Movie Ranked Worst To Best (Including Collateral)

The Transporter series began Jason Statham’s career as an action hero, but how do they rank, from weakest to strongest. The Transporter hit theaters in 2002, introducing Statham as freelance underworld courier Frank Martin. On the job, Frank’s rules are simple – no names, no opening the package, and the terms of the deal are set in stone. However, at least one rule is inevitably broken in each movie in the series, forcing Frank to adapt to the circumstances.

Statham brought charisma and physicality to The Transporter series that made Frank Martin his breakout role. It was also the first time he was able to really show what he could bring to an action movie as a martial artist. The Transporter later spawned a two-season TV series starring Chris Vance, a 2015 reboot led by Ed Skrein, and a quiet crossover appearance before cinematic universes had managed to catch on.

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Statham has since joined The Expendables ensemble as Lee Christmas and boarded the Fast & Furious series as villain-turned-anti-hero Deckard Shaw. However, Statham’s rise as an action star began with arguably his most important character in Frank Martin. Here’s the ranking of The Transporter movies, from worst to best.

5. Collateral

Jason Statham with Tom Cruise in Collateral

Not technically a Transporter movie, but more of a chapter in The Transporter Cinematic Universe, Michael Mann’s Collateral sees Jamie Foxx as cab driver Max Durocher, who gets recruited by an assassin named Vincent (Tom Cruise) to drive him around Los Angeles as he carries out his latest hits. Collateral brings an appropriately dark feel to Foxx’s everyman cab man driver pulled into a situation completely foreign to him, and having to navigate a harrowing cat-and-mouse game, while Tom Cruise channels a charming yet poised contract killer. But for fans of The Transporter series, Collateral is more fondly remembered for one scene above all.

That scene is, of course, Jason Statham’s cameo as an unidentified man delivering a briefcase to Vincent in an airport, with Statham’s character confirmed Transporter director Louis Leterrier to be Frank Martin. While not having a tremendous amount of bearing on The Transporter series, Collateral still quietly decided to implement the cameo/cross-over gimmick from one movie to another before it was cool. Transporter completionists may want to give Collateral a look just to be able to see all of Frank Martin’s big-screen appearances to date, but otherwise, Collateral is best enjoyed on its own terms as a gripping thriller.

4. The Transporter Refueled

The Transporter Refueled fight image

While The Transporter Refueled aimed to relaunch the series, it’s mostly a forgettable slog, with Jason Statham himself jumping ship on the series before it got rolling. Frank Martin, now played by Ed Skrein, takes up his latest job of transporting a woman named Anna (Loan Chabanol) from a bank, only to find himself recruited into a vendetta against mob boss Arkady Karasov by Anna and three other women escaping from sex trafficking, with Frank’s father (Ray Stevenson) also pulled into the mix. Ed Skrein isn’t necessarily a bad choice as the lead of an action movie, and he might even make a good choice to portray Statham himself in a theoretical biopic, but the latter’s absence from Refueled is hard for the reboot/sequel to move past, though that’s far from its only issue.

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The action scenes, while channeling prop-assisted creativity with shades of Jackie Chan here and there, just aren’t particularly invigorating or inspiring (though they at least ditched the horrific camerawork that was the downfall of Transporter 3.) The idea of Frank on an Indiana Jones-style adventure with his father could’ve been a real change of pace for the series, and Refueled would’ve worked much better with that more as its focus. Presented as it is, Refueled is just another kidnapping plot with generic and same-style action sequences and little new material brought to a franchise that had such an energetic start. Ed Skrein went on to much better fortune in the joyously irreverent Deadpool, who could soon appear in the MCU, just five months later, but despite its title, The Transporter Refueled is running on empty.

3. Transporter 3

Transporter 3 fight pic

Frank Martin leaped from 20th Century Fox to Lionsgate with 2008’s Transporter 3, and despite Statham being committed as ever, it’s the low point of the initial trilogy. For the third movie, Frank is coerced into transporting a young woman named Valentina (Natalya Rudakova) to Budapest, with an explosive bracelet affixed to his arm. On paper, Transporter 3 puts a Crank-like spin on his mission, but the gimmick isn’t exploited for the kind of pins-and-needles stakes it could bring to Frank’s usual talent for improvising his way out of tight spots.

Even worse, after two predecessors full of outstanding fight and chase sequences, Transporter 3 heavily indulges in every action fan’s worst nightmare, the dreaded shaky-cam and its evil twin, excessively fast editing. Fight scenes that could’ve been hard-hitting and exhilarating showdowns like those with Jean-Claude Van Damme’s fighting style, such as Frank taking on an entire gang of henchmen in an auto garage after trying to free himself of the explosive bracelet, are reduced to blurs of incoherent fisticuffs, the cuts and camerawork tearing every action scene to shreds. As Valentina, Natalya Rudakova at least makes a fairly respectable debut as a first-time actress, but the rest of Transporter 3 is sadly not up to snuff.

2. The Transporter

The Transporter oil fight image

2002’s sleeper action hit The Transporter kicked Jason Statham into the mainstream as the world’s most famous cockney butt-kicker and introduced Frank Martin as a courier with a code. Tasked with transporting a duffel bag, Frank breaks his rule of leaving the package unopened after seeing it move, discovering the bound Lai (Shu Qi) inside, and learns that Lai’s father (Ric Young) is running a human trafficking operation through France. Like Frank himself and Statham’s current role as Fast and Furious’ Deckard Shaw, The Transporter is as confident as an action movie can get. Frank’s cynicism leading him to his mercenary lifestyle makes him a much more relatable anti-hero, and his soft banter with French police inspector Tarconi (François Berléand) adds chuckles into the movie for how much of an open-secret Frank’s illegal activity is between the two.

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Directing duties were split between Louis Leterrier as “artistic director”, with Corey Yuen as action director, and The Transporter brings everything Hong Kong action fans love to a French setting. While The Transporter is never short for chases and fights, the movie’s shipping container and bus station brawls were what left everyone buzzing, a foreboding, low-key guitar strum underlying Frank punching and kicking tidal waves of henchmen in containers, buses, and an oil spill. Statham had just come off of co-starring with Jet Li in The One the year prior, and if that film foretold Li and Statham’s frequent collaborations, The Transporter established Statham as a grizzled, stubbly action hero with a predilection for gravelly one-liners and spinning kicks, and was an outstanding start to the series.

1. Transporter 2

Transporter 2 fight scene pic

Transporter 2 landed in 2005 as an even more relentless, self-confident, and action-packed sequel, and immediately gets rolling with no fuss and no muss. Frank’s taken on a gig as the chauffeur for the child of a Florida politician, and despite looking forward to seeing Inspector Tarconi again during his U.S. vacation, Frank finds himself pulled into a kidnapping and assassination plot by drug kingpin Gianni (Alessandro Gassman). Transporter 2 is even more sure of itself than its predecessor, opening with Frank putting down a gang of car robbers with a casual, day-at-the-office attitude, removing his suit jacket that “just came out of the dry cleaner’s.

Transporter 2 occasionally dips into a moment or two of the kind of ridiculousness the comic book-esque Fast and Furious franchise has practically patented, specifically when Frank flips his car mid-air to graze a crane and remove a bomb from underneath. Nonetheless, Transporter 2 brings incredible vigor and power to its chase scenes and martial arts fights. The garage fight, in particular, is like a senior class version of the previous film’s battle in a similar location, now set to a heart-racing heavy metal soundtrack as Frank holds his opponents at bay with a steel pole, following that up by defeating a second string of enemies with a fire hose. Though it comes in a tad on the short side, Transporter 2 exudes the confidence of the John Wick series as a sequel that knows it’s coming off a surprise hit and wants nothing more than to be an even bigger crowd-pleaser. In the best Transporter movies sweepstakes, it’s Transporter 2 for the win.

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