Set amidst the unparalleled wealth and glamor of Palm Beach, Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez team up to get their cut in the crime thriller Parker based on the series of bestselling novels by Donald E. Westlake. The film is directed by Academy Award nominee Taylor Hackford (Ray) and also stars Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce (HBO's "The Wire") and Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. In his newest film, Parker, Jason Statham plays the title character, a criminal with a skewed sense of morality that reluctantly joins up with the wrong crowd and seeks revenge when they do him wrong. Yes, Parker is yet another Jason Statham vehicle meant not to engage the mind but to get the men cheering as blood spews and the woman hooting as Statham removes his shirt numerous times.
What makes Parker unique, if you could even say that, is its layered storytelling, which features a wide cast of characters, several intertwining plots, and plenty of opportunities to kill some bad guys. Unfortunately a lot of those elements end up turning the film into a bloody mess - in more ways than one. Not one single character, not even the title character that we follow for the vast majority of the film's nearly two-hour runtime, is fleshed out. Parker doesn't seek revenge and put everyone he cares about at risk because it's the right thing to do, he does so because that's what a Jason Statham character is supposed to do.
Forget about trying to effectively convey any sense of history between characters, or trying to justify the budding romance between Parker and Jennifer Lopez's character Leslie Rogers, a Palm Beach real estate agent whose eager to join Parker's cause when she learns millions are involved - that would be asking too much of a film like this. Lopez, like Statham, tries her best to make her character work, but ultimately what the script asks her to do as the romantic interest/sidekick is almost laughable.
At the same time the film's villains, of which there are far too many, are played by some talented TV and film actors, but once again are underutilized. There's actually far too many conflicts involved in the film that even the ones audiences might care about aren't featured enough. And by the time the film reaches its climax, which has been telegraphed well ahead of its arrival, there's no tension or stakes.
Had this been Statham's first or second of these cookie cutter action films it might have been worth a casual recommendation, but the lack of effort by all parties involved to deliver anything exciting or in the least bit interesting is wholly disappointing. If you're a fan of Statham's and you love him doing what he does best, it's likely you might enjoy Parker, but for the rest of us this is a poor excuse for an action movie.
Even amidst the thinly drawn characters and the extremely stupid story there was still some hope that the action sequences in Parker might carry the film through. However, I'm sad to report that, while overly bloody, the action in the film isn't even of the caliber we've come to expect from a Statham vehicle. Parker is not a trained assassin, wheelman, or thief in the film, he's more like a blunt instrument, made blunt by the amount of pain he is dealt over the course of the movie.
Every single action scene finishes with Statham covered in blood and in most cases clinging to life. Yes, Parker punches, kicks, stabs, and shoots plenty, but most of the time you're left wondering how this character is still alive rather than impressed by his physical prowess. In one or two spots the film has splashes of what might be considered excitement, like a Penthouse battle between Parker and an assassin, but being bookended by stupidity overwhelms any entertaining action.
January 25, 2013