Jason Statham is back on the big screen with a few bumps and bruises in Taylor Hackford's revenge thriller, Parker. Statham, who has mastered the art of playing the good bad guy, stars as Parker, a principled thief double crossed by a mafia crew (Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins Jr., and Micah Hauptman). The team pull off a big score, then ask Parker to throw in his take as seed money for the heist of a lifetime. Parker's refusal gets him pumped full of lead. Thirsting for some serious payback, he hunts down his former cohorts in West Palm Beach, Florida. The game is most certainly afoot, but Parker needs a little help to settle this debt. Enter Leslie Rodger's (Jennifer Lopez), a gorgeous, down on her luck real estate agent desperate after a crippling divorce.
Parker moves very swiftly. The film has a breakneck pace for its two hour runtime. This is good, because if it stopped long enough for audiences to think, plot holes would appear like teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert. This isn't really a flaw in my opinion. I was generally entertained and caught up in the story from the opening scene. Director Taylor Hackford let's his actors play their characters straight, so you're getting what you expect from each performance. Statham is the unstoppable ass kicker. Lopez is the sassy and beautiful partner. And Nick Nolte is gruff as ever as the straw man. The action scenes are brutally violent, but not overly so. While Statham does survive every attempt on his life, he takes quite a beating in this film. This gives Hackford the opportunity to show Statham's ripped physique, and set up a fairly humorous exchange where Jennifer Lopez gets down to the skivvies.
Parker, based on the novel Flashfire by Donald E. Westlake, is in the vein of an Elmore Leonard novel. A far better film in this style would be Out of Sight, also starring Jennifer Lopez. That's a high standard that Parker does not meet, but it is certainly entertaining enough to reward most fans. You can't take a really critical eye to a movie like this or it will lose its fun. A few bits, like Statham posing as an oil man from Ecuador with a thick Texas accent, had me wondering if this was intentionally funny or just coming across as such. I'll stick with the former and chalk it up to Hackford having a jab at Statham's genteel British demeanor.
Statham and Lopez do have chemistry here, although she is not his love interest. This struck me as kind of odd, but the script does play up her character's attraction to Parker. Other people that saw the film were harsher in regard to their relationship. I completely disagree. I thought they worked well together and was somewhat inspired casting.
Parker won't win any awards, but should find a satisfied audience. It ticks enough boxes as an action film to score a positive review from me. The actors aren't reaching for anything outside their norm, but I think it fits in this ensemble piece.