“There are just so few redeeming features in Parker that it's hard to take it at all seriously...”
In the past 15 years, American filmmaker Taylor Hackford has won an Oscar for the outstanding Ray, and married Helen Mirren. However it seems his luck may have just run out, with the release of his latest feature Parker, starring Jason Statham in the title role.
Parker is a no holds barred bastard. The type of bastard you can't seem to be rid of, no matter how hard you try, something Melander (Michael Chiklis) and his group of tactless accomplices find out the hard way. Having united for a triumphant robbery of a fairground, and the promise to split the rewards five ways, the group turn on their new colleague and leave him for dead, thinking they've got rid of Parker for good. However as he miraculously recovers, he only has one thing on his mind: revenge. As Parker discovers that the group now intend on pulling off the multimillion pound robbery of a jewellery auction in Florida, the fugitive has a motivation of his own, yet he may just require the help of local estate agent Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez).
Statham films are slowly becoming a genre of their own, as twice a year it seems we are being mistreated to the latest Statham offering – all films different of course, yet following a similar course; that of one character taking the law into his own hands and in a true 'story of the underdog' fashion, he must fight his way out of trouble. However Parker is lacking somewhat in the witty aspect that often comes with such productions, as this just all seems too serious. Statham has a wonderful knack for delivering the occasional punchy one-liner, yet his character seems devoid of a such an ability this time around, and he remains without the tongue-in-cheek mentality which tends to make his films seem so watchable. In this he barely cracks a smile.
Of course as with any Statham movie we also have the damsel in distress, and in this instance it's in the form of the weary, disillusioned estate agent Leslie played by Lopez. Her belated appearance actually comes as something of a relief, which you know is the sign of a mediocre movie. However when she does finally appear you regret whatever anticipation you had previously felt. Meanwhile there is also a role for Nick Nolte in the film, and not only is it a highly irrelevant one, but the esteemed performer has this miraculous ability to act as though he is being dubbed, as the words spoken seem to bear no correlation as to when his mouth actually moves. Very peculiar.
Another frustration comes in how everything just happens to fall into Parker's lap far too easily. If he needs a car, he steals a car. If he needs a shower and a shave, well, he just breaks into somebodies motel room for a quick wash. If he needs new clothes he spots someone with a similar waistline and breaks into their house. Whatever he wants, he gets, and it's just a bit silly to be honest. Also, isn't it funny how when he is robbed of all possessions he manages to keep hold of his mobile phone? Guess the bad guys knew he may need it to make a phone call later on in the movie.
Pedantry aside, there are just so few redeeming features in Parker that it's hard to take it at all seriously. The final quarter of an hour aside – which is genuinely rather compelling – we are without a decent, witty screenplay, a stand-out performance or any riveting action sequence. There isn't even a romantic narrative to get your teeth into. Here is a film that fails to flourish in any aspect. I might just watch Ray again and forget this ever happened.