Director: Taylor Hackford
Starring: Jason Statham, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins Jr., Micah A. Hauptman
The admirable thing about Parker: it takes its time. The annoying thing about Parker: it takes its bloody time! And it is bloody by the way.
For those wanting a cinematic marriage between 1999’s Payback and any of the crappy The Crow sequels, well, your twisted prayers have been answered. But the problem that arises is that the awfulness of the comic-inspired vigilante sequels drags down the goodness found in the Mel Gibson led version of author Donald E. Westlake’s literary character.
Look, this should have been a typical Jason Statham movie; a term yours truly coined last year, similar to how audiences categorize a John Wayne or Jackie Chan flick. Thing is, Statham seems to be miscast, save for his always stellar hand-to-hand combat sequences – that are captured with an annoying shaky camera (please stop this technique).
The plot, again, sounds tailored-made for Statham, as he deals in criminal activities yet has some sort of moral compass when executing the big money heists. But when a crew (Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins Jr., and Micah A. Hauptman) betrays him, Statham vows for revenge, even though the crew is backed by high-level crime bosses. And it’s not about the money as it is the principle of getting screwed in his eyes.
Screenplay writer John J. McLaughlin (Hitchcock, Black Swan), who this guy is a fan of, seemingly has his script hacked-up more time than not during this production. But to be fair, some of the portions they did use come across as if he wrote it in crayon. Whether everyone was trying to stay loyal to the Westlake novels is unknown by me. But holy crap is this dialogue tired and clichéd! And the acting and direction did nothing to help it out. It’s almost if your hanging with your friends and someone says, “Did you ever see Jason Statham’s first ever big-screen movie?” And why lie about it? They usually are average at best. And that last statement goes for everything seen here; for finished product is choppy and rough draft-like. But then you realize that this was made during the present as one sees an aging, and mumbling, Nick Nolte; who is starting to physically resemble Fantastic Four’s The Thing.
What it boils down to, is when you adapted a second-tier literary character a little more backstory should probably be given. Everyone knows a James Bond or Jack Ryan and the audience can slide right in. And although you can surmise certain characteristics without a dedicated “Get to know our main character” section, you still have set the table to sell the forthcoming actions that are pertinent to the storytelling mechanics. With this, Statham’s morals are not articulated in a smooth manner and just seem random when those moments occur.
And why the hell is Jennifer Lopez’s ancillary character/storyline even necessary here? But we men thank you for taking off the dress for no apparent reason.
Overall, Parker is at its best when it’s violent. Other than that, Statham brings very little charisma to this role and the story is so run-of-the-mill that you wish this would just turn into a mindless shoot-em up mess. With regard to the recent releases in the genre: it’s better than Alex Cross but far below Jack Reacher.