Parker (2013) / Thriller-Action

MPAA rated: R for strong bloody violence, language, brief nudity and a scene of sexuality
Length: 118 min.

Cast: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins Jr., Nick Nolte, Wendell Pierce, Emma Booth, Bobby Cannavale, Patti LuPone, Carlos Carrasco, Michah Hauptman, Daniel Bernhardt
Director: Taylor Hackford
Screenplay: John J. McLaughlin (based on the novel, "Flashfire", by Donald Westlake (as Richard Stark))
Review published January 30, 2013

Parker Jason Statham 2013Parker starts off with a heist at the Ohio State Fair, where Parker (Statham, The Mechanic), working with a team of four other master thieves, pulls it off only to be left nearly for dead when the others screw him over for his cut after he refuses to join them on a jewel heist worth tens of millions of dollars.

Of course, Parker isn't quite dead, and he wants revenge on the gang of four, as well as their boss, for the principle of it. Using some of his interrogation skills, Parker learns that the big heist is going to go down in West Palm Beach, Florida. He heads there under the guise of being a wealthy Texan looking to buy a home in the high-class area, but Leslie (Lopez, What to Expect When You're Expecting), the real estate agent he has showing him around, sniffs out his game (possibly due to the least convincing Texan accent ever attempted) and wants in on the deal.

Parker is based on the popular Donald E. Westlake character of 24 of his books, written in the 2000 pulp novel "Flashfire" under his pseudonym of Richard Stark, which has appeared in movies before, most notably in the 1967 classic Point Blank, and the Mel Gibson actioner, Payback. Neither of those movies used the same character name, but the character is still the same, nonetheless. Parker is directed by Taylor Hackford (The Devil's Advocate, Against All Odds), who scored an Oscar nomination for Best Director with the musical biopic, Ray, a few years back.

The first third of the movie isn't entirely new or novel, but it does deliver some exciting moments as the heist get underway, as well as the double cross. The momentum takes a dip once Jennifer Lopez's character begins to take center stage, as her character feels as though it belongs in a romantic comedy much more so than in what had been up until that point a fairly serious hardboiled actioner. In a way, it feels more like it belongs in an Elmore Leonard-inspired flick, like Stick (which featured a similar fall from the patio of a hotel room), than in anything Westlake might have written. She's not particularly funny, and gets in the way far more often than she helps, and one wonders if the only reason she is in the film is to be the Kryptonite to Parker's nearly invincible status as action hero.

It's quite the violent film, with a good share of blood emanating from the poor recipients of Parker's vicious fists or, in one of the more difficult scenes to watch, from the impaling of a knife through a hand. It's a flick strictly for action fans, and Statham fans in particular, while most in that group will just have to grin and bear it though the 'shark-jumping' J.Lo scenes for some well-choreographed fights.

Qwipster's rating:  

©2013 Vince Leo