Parker, a movie based on the character from Donald E. Westlake’s long-running series of novels, has seen many iterations in the past, but the character has never been permitted to keep his name. Jason Statham portrays the titular character in this film, a career criminal who only robs those who arguably deserve it. He’s mentored by Hurley (Nick Nolte), who puts him in touch with Melander (Michael Chiklis) and a few other like-minded thieves with the intent of robbing a county fair. However, things go awry when his partners go rogue and start opening fire on innocent bystanders. Melander then attempts to bully Parker into using his share of the take to invest in a bigger robbery. When Parker refuses, he is shot, dumped in a ditch, and left for dead. A passing family finds him and takes him to a nearby hospital. As he recovers, he seeks revenge on the gang, who are now living in Palm Beach.
While in Palm Beach, Parker meets Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a down-on-her-luck estate agent who has recently moved back in with her mother. She is about to have her car repossessed and is in danger of losing her job if she doesn’t make a sale. Parker poses as a wealthy Texan looking to buy property, but Leslie thinks something is off about him (probably Statham’s poor Texan accent). Parker soon reveals his true intentions to Leslie, and she agrees to help him for a cut of the profits.
Despite being promoted as an action-comedy, the trailers for Parker were misleading. Statham and Lopez are not the new Riggs and Murtaugh, and the film is not a comedy. However, the pair do have chemistry, and it’s refreshing that Lopez isn’t a love interest for Statham’s character, as he is in a fully committed long-term relationship.
Statham’s performances have improved with every film, and he has an instant likability that some actors would have difficulty pulling off. However, the actors in Parker are let down by the script and direction. The writers can’t decide what kind of man they want Parker to be, and the director, Taylor Hackford, comes across as a first-time director. You would never believe he had directed an Oscar-nominated film.
The blood and violence in Parker are a bit over-the-top, and the film almost becomes a laughable parody, which is fine for something like The Expendables, a love letter to over-the-top action films, but not for Parker. Overall, the film is a clichéd mess and could have easily lost 30-40 minutes. There are characters that don’t really fit in the movie or even need to be there. It feels incredibly forced when we’re asked to feel emotion for them.
The extras include an informative commentary by Director Taylor Hackford in which he discusses the source novel, casting, production, and effects.