‘Transporter’ TV Series Coming To Cinemax

A new 12-part television series based on the Transporter films that starred Jason Statham is currently in production and will debut on the cable movie channel Cinemax next year.

British actor Chris Vance, who has played recurring characters like Whistler on Prison Break and Mason Gilroy on Burn Notice, will take over for Statham in the role of Frank Martin, the titular man whose job it is to transport certain people or objects no matter what danger lies in his path. His three rules are: never change the deal; no names; and never open the package. Naturally, as you may have seen in the movies, those rules are made to be broken, and they always are.

Hungarian actress Andrea Osvart will play Martin’s handler Carla and Francois Berleand will reprise his role from the films as Inspector Tarconi, Frank’s trusted ally. Other recurring cast members will include Delphine Chanéac, best known for playing Dren in Vincenzo Natali’s 2010 horror gem Splice, as Juliette, a reporter with a shrewd insight into who Frank really is, and Rachel Skarsten (Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer) as Delia, the daughter of someone from Frank’s past. Production is now underway and shooting will continue until November. Luc Besson, the great French action director who wrote all three of the Transporter films with Robert Mark Kamen and produced the films as well, will serve as an executive producer on the new series.

I’m only moderately familiar with the Transporter films; the only one I’ve actually seen is the first one and that one I saw in pieces over the course of several years. The movie had some good action, mostly neatly choreographed hand-to-hand combat and car chases, and was driven (no pun intended) primarily by the charm and screen presence of its star Jason Statham. Those elements were enough to sustain a three-film franchise that did most of its best business thanks to cable airings and DVD sales. With that said, I’m not entirely positive that the Transporter can work as a television series, even if it does have the advantage of being on Cinemax rather than on a network or even a basic cable channel which would have a great influence over the show’s violent and sexual content. Having to restrict the show’s action to an affordable cable TV budget and replace Jason Statham, who has become a modern action movie icon in recent years, with a relatively unknown actor best known for multi-episode television guest stints may hurt the show’s long-term prospects. We’ll see what happens. Maybe the presence of Besson will have a positive effect.

The Transporter will debut on Cinemax sometime in 2012.

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