Saturday, 3 July 2021

Movie Review: Parker (2013)

A revenge action thriller, Parker plugs into Jason Statham's crackling persona but otherwise offers placid engagement.

Professional thief Parker (Statham) joins a gang led by Melander (Michael Chiklis) to rob a State Fair in Ohio. They get away with close to $200,000 each, but Melander insists they use the money to seed a much bigger job. When Parker refuses he is shot and left for dead.

He survives and through his contact Hurley (Nick Nolte) learns Melander's gang is connected to powerful Chicago-based mobsters and is now planning a big jewel heist in Palm Beach, Florida. Parker safeguards his girlfriend Claire (Emma Booth) and secures false identity papers as a wealthy Texan. To find Melander's Palm Beach hideout Parker pretends to be interested in buying a house and connects with struggling real estate agent Leslie (Jennifer Lopez). She spots an opportunity for a big commission and maybe more as Parker plots his revenge.

An adaptation of the book Flashfire by Donald E. Westlake with a script by John J. McLaughlin, Parker's plot carries similarities to earlier Westlake adaptations including Point Blank and Payback. Despite generous injections of unnecessary gore and Statham's charismatic presence, director Taylor Hackford fails to refresh the familiar story of a principled crook intent on recovering his fair share from double-crossing ex-colleagues.

Among the criminals, the script demonstrates no interest in complex character definitions or development. Parker is an honourable thief with strict adherence to a code of conduct, while all the thick-necked bad guys are designated as thick-necked bad guys. The rest of the movie concerns itself with decent-enough but soulless and mostly joyless action set-pieces, with just one or two moments of wit cracking a smile.

Jennifer Lopez as Leslie arrives relatively deep into the movie carrying a sob story consisting of a scoundrel ex-husband, bankruptcy, and the ignominy of living with her insufferable daytime soap-loving mother. Lopez lands with the thud of misplaced star power: Leslie initially belongs in a rom-com, and her subsequent plotting to carve a cut for herself out of Parker's quest for revenge (and maybe find a husband as part of the bargain) is more appropriate for a light-hearted crime misadventure. Meanwhile Parker is engaged in brutal fights to the death with a merciless assassin involving bloody limb perforations and bodies flying off balconies.

Parker seeks pulpy vengeance from previously squeezed ideas, but only succeeds in spraying flavourless juice in uncoordinated directions.



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