Cast: Parker (Jason Statham), Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez), Melander (Michael Chiklis), Carlson (Wendell Pierce), Ross (Clifton Collins Jr.), Jake Fernandez (Bobby Cannavale), Hurley (Nick Nolte)
Director: Taylor Hackford
Theatrical release: 01/25/2013
DVD Date: 05/21/2013
Running Time: 118 minutes
Note(s): The screenplay was adapted by John J. McLaughlin and based on the novel Flashfire by Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake).
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Review: Parker is one of those movies that had it been cast properly and had its screenplay not been so predictably routine it might have been a pretty good film.
Let's address the second point first. Based on the novel Flashfire by Richard Stark, a pen name used by Donald E. Westlake, the storyline can be summed up as: Bad Guy 2 double-crosses Bad Guy 1, so Bad Guy 1 vows revenge on Bad Guy 2. Unfortunately, the screenwriter for Parker does nothing to add to this basic premise. There are no twists or unexpected turns along the way; it is (metaphorically) a paint-by-numbers approach to move from one scene to the next.
As for casting, Jason Statham is completely wrong the part. On paper, maybe he isn't, but as soon as he speaks it's obvious that someone else should have been playing the role of Parker. It isn't as simple as Statham being British and Parker being so very American; Statham seems to employ a hit first, think later approach to the character where it really should be the other way around. Parker is smarter than the character Statham is playing, but that never comes across here. True, that could be due to the weak script or poor direction on the part of the directory, but for better or worse, Statham is Parker … and he isn't.
Somewhat surprisingly, the most interesting character in the film is the struggling real estate agent played by Jennifer Lopez. J-Lo does a fine job here, more than holding her own in a film dominated by men. (Parker's relationship with his girlfriend is never believable, and their scenes are poorly staged and acted out.) The rest of the "bad guy" cast are OK, though barely understandable due their constant mumbling or rasping, and generally fading into the background. To be sure, Parker isn't much better, talking under his breath most of the time.
The film moves along at a good clip, though at about 2 hours feels maybe 15-20 minutes too long. The ending seems particularly rushed, however. Had I been the editor, I'd have cut the scenes with Parker's girlfriend and spent a few more minutes wrapping everything up in a neater package.
Parker is entertaining for what it is, a popcorn night at home rental.
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