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Movie Review: Parker

January 25, 2013
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Parker starts out strong, spends the next hour doing nothing, then it ends with a good-enough set piece. That’s pretty much the review right there, and it’s going to be a struggle to think of anything more to say.

There’s a lot of things I can expect a Jason Statham action movie to be, but boring is not one of them. When he showed up to the Ohio State Fair dressed as a priest, my hopes soared — Statham unconvincingly costumed: That is funny — and he’s robbing Ohio, the most vile and butt-smelling state! When he scolded one of his teammates for peeping into the fair’s Nudie Tent (these exist? Cool!), I was all but ready to love the movie. When he drove Jennifer Lopez around Palm Beach looking at houses for what seems like eons, I wanted to go home.

Parker’s been portrayed on screen before, in 1967′s Point Blank, where his character’s name was Walker, and he was portrayed by Lee Marvin, and again in 1999′s Payback, where he was Porter and played by Mel Gibson. I gather that the running theme of Donald Westlake’s novels upon which the films are based is that W/Pa/ork/ter is a thief who’s always double-crossed by his gang. You’d think after 50 or so years he’d learn to choose better friends.

Parker’s no different, and his merry band of backstabbers is this time played by Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins, Jr., and Micah Hauptman. They’re acquaintances of Parker’s buddy Hurley, played by Nick Nolte who lately talks like his voice is compiled from a series of phlegm bubbles. That Parker does not immediately suspect he’s been set up by Hurley is an indication they he may not be the best at choosing friends. Or maybe it’s because his girlfriend Claire (Emma Booth) is Hurley’s daughter. Claire knows about Parker’s lifestyle, but accepts it because he is who he is. I guess that lack of insight makes them a perfect couple.

Anyway, Parker is left for dead, escapes from a hospital, and tracks the group down to Florida, where he meets up with Leslie Rodgers (Lopez), a down-on-her-luck realtor. Since Parker already has a girlfriend and shows no signs of temptation, there’s no chemistry between the two, so why spend the bulk of the movie with them? No idea. But then again, it’s supposed to be an action movie, and there’s not much action. It’s also a crime thriller, and there’s few thrills.

It’s just a big disappointment. Statham has a lot of charm, but he’s all but wasted here. Doubly so for Chiklis. Whatever may have been a good thought for a film featuring your average “best-of-the-best” hero is washed away with the Lopez plot that we already know cannot go anywhere. Even still, when she becomes integral to Parker’s plan, she doesn’t contribute anything outside of accidentally getting captured. And whatever action there is is muddled by director Taylor Hackford’s incessant camera shakes. You also got to wonder about a guy who doesn’t just shoot the bad guys, or, for that matter, a girl who has no qualms with taking ill-gotten booty.

Rating: 2/5

Parker is rated R. Directed by Taylor Hackford. Written by John J. McLaughlin. Based on the novel Flashfire by Donald E. Westlake. Starring Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, WWendell Pierce, Clifton Collins, Jr., Bobby Cannavale, Patti LuPone, Carlos Carrasco, Micah A. Hauptman, Emma Booth, Nick Nolte, and Daniel Bernhardt.

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