Synopsis: To get away clean, you have to play dirty.
Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional thief who lives by a personal code of ethics: Don’t steal from people who can’t afford it and don’t hurt people who don’t deserve it. But on his latest heist, his crew double crosses him, steals his stash, and leaves him for dead. Determined to make sure they regret it, Parker tracks them to Palm Beach, playground of the rich and famous, where the crew is planning their biggest heist ever. Donning the disguise of a rich Texan, Parker takes on an unlikely partner, Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a savvy insider, who’s short on cash, but big on looks, smarts and ambition. Together, they devise a plan to hijack the score, take everyone down and get away clean. Also starring Michael Chiklis.
eyelights: its basic plot.
eyesores: the staleness of the production. its modernized adaptation of a pulp classic. Parker’s nearly superhuman abilities.
“I don’t steal from anyone who can’t afford it, and I don’t hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.”
‘Parker’ is a 2013 motion based on the novel ‘Flashfire’, by Richard Stark. Starring Jason Statham in the lead, it tells the story of a thief who is double-crossed by his partners after a heist and who later tracks them down to Palm Beach for a little retribution.
If it sounds vaguely familiar, it’s fully justified: Parker is the same character as in ‘The Hunter‘, the Parker novel that inspired both ‘Point Blank‘ and ‘Payback‘. The key difference between them is that this is the first time he’s referred to by his proper name.
It’s also as blunt and unremarkable as sheet metal.
Unlike these other two, this picture is devoid of fresh ideas; strip it and its protagonist of the name “Parker” and it could be any other generic, B-grade, Jason Statham actioner. I have nothing against Statham, but you’d think a Parker film would be more distinctive.
It’s not. Director Taylor Hackford claims that he wanted to make his first film noir and, while that’s a laudable goal, he has failed miserably: ‘Parker’ is far too modern stylistically; it has none of that pulp novel quality. And, well, Statham is too plain for the part.
Plus which their version of Parker seems out of character for a hardened criminal: he’s actually empathic: he wins a toy for a little girl, helps out a security guard who has a panic attack, …etc. It’s hard to imagine that it’s supposed to be the same character as in ‘Payback’.
Then comes a bevy of loose ends that probably had Donald Westlake (Richard Stark’s real name) spinning in his grave:
- On the way back from their heist at the Ohio State Fair, the others try to coax Parker to invest his share in another heist, one with a bigger payout. He refuses. So they threaten him. He refuses. So they have a gunfight in the van, while driving. Yes, a gunfight inside the van. Smart. Might as well do it aboard a plane while you’re at it.
- They leave him by the roadside, shot three times, including a deliberate parting shot to finish him off. But, luckily, a family of hicks pass by and take him to the hospital. Somehow, the gang didn’t even notice the truck coming, even though it could clearly be seen in the distance. Weren’t they even remotely concerned they’d been seen? And why didn’t the hicks see them shoot Parker, given that they were 500 metres away?
- Luckily again, Parker is in pretty good shape even after all of that. Either he’s healed quickly or he’s been in the hospital for a while. Except… the latter is not possible since the cops only just heard about him being there and made the connection with the State Fair heist. Clearly, he’s only just arrived – so what happened to those bullet wounds? Any one of those would have killed a normal man. But three of them…? And that’s not accounting for all the other injuries he sustained!
- In any event, despite all his injuries, Parker escapes from the hospital just before the cops arrive. And they aren’t even able to track him down, even though he was just there and he’s hobbled by his wounds.
- Parker cleans himself up and he’s good as new. Suuuuuuure.
- Parker keeps hot wiring cars to get around. I didn’t even think you could do that with modern cars, let alone as quickly as that.
- Parker goes to Palm Beach to find the double-crossers, and hires a real estate agent to show him houses – something he could have done by himself. I guess it was necessary in order to introduce J-Lo’s character into his life. Yes, J-Lo.
- J-Lo gets the impression that Parker’s not all he claims to be (he assumed a fake identity, for one). But how is she checking his whole background and credit profile? Is this something all real estate agents can do? Or is Google better than I’d ever imagined? And why isn’t his cover any better than this? Seriously, it couldn’t get more bare-bones than this: It’s easy to hack and all the information is incomplete, which instantly rings alarm bells! WTF.
- J-Lo confronts him about it and then offers to help him. Of course she does. And he actually considers it. Of course he does. And naturally he’ll do right by her in the end. Ugh.
- Um… why does J-Lo have a monologue, telling him her whole backstory in one breath? WTF. Is this the only way that the writers could flesh out her character?
- Parker has J-Lo strip in front of him under the pretense of checking her for wires. Man, can this film ever get any lower? Don’t get me wrong: J-Lo is total eye-candy. It’s the gratuitous nature of the scene that bothers me, not seeing J-Lo in her sexy skivvies.
- There’s a moronic scene in which Parker is attacked by a mob assassin. He’s stabbed in the shoulder right at the onset, but it’s not enough to stop him: they beat each other senseless for minutes. Then he plants his hand through the guy’s knife to get a grip on his hand and pitches him over the balcony.
It’s SO stupid, and so lacking in foresight for someone supposedly this intelligent, because this wound will/should incapacitate him for weeks (Oh, right… not in this movie!). He also forgets that throwing the guy over the balcony will attract attention. Duh. How dumb is he? There were so many other ways to dispose of the guy…
- Parker gets out of there without getting caught by the cops, hides at J-Lo’s place, wins over her cantankerous mom and gets patched up by his girlfriend, who is not a doctor. Phew! Thank goodness he’s charmed!
- Parker goes after his former colleagues after they’ve completed their heist. But, of course, J-Lo shows up and gets caught, screwing up all his plans. Sigh…
- In the ensuing melée, J-Lo empties a full clip in a guy with only six shots (revolvers typically have six shots, but pistols usually have much more) and Parker removes a clip from his own gun and stabs one of the guys with it. Hahaha… as if! Then he pops it back in and shoots the gun – it doesn’t jam or anything. WTF.
- And, of course, Parker splits the loot with J-Lo and her life is suddenly all better. Yuck.
Yeah, ‘Parker’ is no grand masterpiece. I didn’t want to see when it came out, but only picked it up after hearing that it was based on Stark’s novels. I can’t say that I wish I could take it back, it’s not that bad, but it’s by far the weakest of all the Parker adaptations that I’ve seen.
Because, yes, there are others…
Date of viewing: February 8, 2016