January 25, 2013
United States (English)
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Written by John J. McLaughlin (Based on the book "Flashfire" by Donald E. Westlake)
"Parker" is a piss-poor execution that is so far from a good time at the movies you'll question everyone involved in all their future projects.
Parker is a professional thief who we know very little about other than he seems to be able to handle himself in a heist. The drawn out opening sequence in this adaptation of "Flashfire" (one of 20+ novels in the book series) takes place at an Ohio State Fair where he and four others knock off the cash office through guile and guises. Parker is dressed like a Catholic Father, two others are dressed as clowns (though they probably should've stayed in these costumes for the whole film as they all talk and act like vehement fools). These dolts double-cross Parker, leave him for dead, and head on to the next score in Florida. Rest assured Parker will be paying them a visit.
Out of the blue we are introduced to Jennifer Lopez, a real estate agent in Palm Beach who Parker uses to find the men that wronged him. She still lives with her mother, an older Latina woman who stays at home at watches soap operas where the plots are surely not this harebrained and the dialogue significantly more pruned. Lopez is grating from her first second onscreen. She's not given any aid from the lines she's given to recite. We're supposed to sympathize with the woman because she sips wine after work while reading an email about her overdue car loan.
Jason Statham is fine as an actor and even better as an action star, which he seems to do a couple times each year now, but when he gives far and away the best performance of a film's entire cast it's telling. Poor Nick Nolte winds up used and confused in his second bad film already this year (
Well-shot films are a dime a dozen these days, but when you find one that is not only dull in its lack of style but even arguably ugly - as the B-roll establishing shots of Palm Beach somehow actually are - it's a high crime. Then you have technical mishaps like easy-to-spot ADR jobs (lips will move when words aren't said and vice versa) miring the affair throughout. The "fix it in post" mentality can work for visual effects, but exposition, delivery and story? I would have been concerned if I was at the screening of a rough cut let alone the finished product on opening weekend.
"Parker" is a film that cannot commit to anything. It's content is the same way. I usually do not mention MPAA ratings because such should not factor into a review, but "Parker" traps itself into a R-rating for no apparent reason. Some brief yet bizarrely insignificant nudity bring nothing to the film. Just scrap a few of the goons' stronger words (because they need all the intelligence they can get) and the film would easily garner a PG-13 rating and a wider audience base. I guess I should not be complaining because this way hopefully less people will waste their time and money on this remarkably un-thrilling "thriller." A brutal encounter in a hotel room may also have contributed to the rating, it would be a shame to cut that because it's the most interesting two minutes of the nearly two hours. Christopher McQuarrie's "Jack Reacher" should still be playing in a theater near you and it is a dazzling motion picture when compared to any part of "Parker."
CONTENT: bloody action, some female nudity and sensuality, strong language