‘…if you’re going to make a ‘by the numbers’ revenge crime triller like this, you should at least make it entertaining’ – Thomas Parkes on his almost-biopic, Parker.
When one considers going to see a new Jason Statham movie, there is a reasonable assumption that can be made about what one may expect to find within. It is a testament to Mr.Statham’s success after all that makes us immediately associate his name with a particular type of movie. This type of movie is usually loud and depicts all sort of physical maladies befalling those unlucky enough to get in Mr.Stathams way. From his early performances in Guy Richies ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘Snatch’, Mr.Statham has managed to carve out a fairly respectable career as an international action hero. And while it might be fair to say that Jason Statham’s movies never typically stray outside the trashier area of cinema, his better films are nonetheless entertaining action films.
If I was whimsical enough to compare a Daniel Day Lewis movie to a beautiful steak dinner then I’d also be whimsical enough to compare a Jason Statham movie to a greasy yet delicious take away burger. From these silly comparisons that I’ve just conjured up before your eyes you’ll hopefully understand the overwrought point that I am trying to make. However, if we think of a Jason Statham movie as a burger, and I think it’s safe to say that we do now, then Parker is a burger full of horse meat.
Now, if you’re a normal human being then it’s safe to say that you probably rolled your eyes while reading the previous line of this review. Indeed, it would be also fair to say that you probably even made an involuntary sound that encompassed a myriad of feelings such as regret, annoyance and embarrassment. But fear not. These are normal responses to lazy and sloppy writing. But the question is why did I create this horrible charade if only to annoy you and waste your time? The answer is simple. Since watching Parker I have tossed and turned in my bed late at night, wondering how I could ever manage to accurately describe the tedious and mind numbingly banal experience one has whilst watching this film. So, against better judgement I decided to invoke the horse meat scandal as a literary device, so that I could make you feel, if only for a few seconds, just how annoyed and regretful I was while watching Parker.
Parker is the new film directed by Taylor Hackford, who most famously made the oscar winning Ray Charles biopic ‘Ray’. Jason Statham plays the eponymous Parker, who along with a group of other men, stage an armed robbery at a fairground. When Parker decides afterwards that he wants to take his share of the money and leave, the rest of the crew decide to murder him as that would set off a chain of events that would eventually enable Parker to seek revenge against them and thus create conflict within the narrative of the film. Elsewhere, Jennifer Lopez plays Leslie Rogers, a financially troubled real estate agent in the same town where the gangs next heist is set to take place.
There’s nothing new here in Parker, and it plays out in the typical fashion that you’d expect a crime/revenge thriller to do so. But this is a Jason Statham movie at the end of the day so nobody was really expecting Hackford to reinvent the wheel. But if you’re going to make a ‘by the numbers’ revenge crime triller like this, you should at least make it entertaining, but unfortunately Parker is a lot less entertaining than it really needs to be. Statham tries to bring the roguish charismatic charm that he’s become synonymous with in this genre, but with shoddy pacing and an even shoddier script it soon becomes obvious that this is one of the weaker Jason Statham movies.
There’s easily 15 to 20 minutes of this movie that could have been cut and unfortunately those 15 to 20 minutes happen represent every scene that Jennifer Lopez appears in. Lopez’s character seems to be so unnecessary to the plot of the film that it begs the question of why she’s even there in the first place. There was scope here to examine how the financial pressures and stresses that people face may lead someone like Leslie ( Lopez ) to becoming involved in crime. However, from early on things soon become clear that the director isn’t really interested in telling that story. So instead we get subjected to completely superfluous scenes like the one where Parker’s devotion to his girlfriend is tested by the advances of J-Lo, or in one particularly crass scene, she strips to her underwear at the behest of Parker in order to demonstrate the absence of a recording device upon her person. Ultimately, a fairly respectable and refreshingly toned down performance from J-Lo is completely smothered under layer upon layer of bad storytelling.
It’s worth mentioning also that Nick Nolte pops his head in every now and again to try and trick the viewer into thinking that they’re watching a more absorbing film than they really are but alas, to no avail. Wendell Pierce who excelled in tv dramas ‘the wire’ and ‘Treme’ is completely underused here also which is a real shame considering the talent he possesses. The problem is that the film doesn’t reveal anything about any of the characters. The only thing I genuinely learned about any of the characters in this film is that Parker likes revenge, and J-Lo likes Parker.
There’s not much else to say about Parker. It’s instantly forgettable and infrequently enjoyable. It’s not all bad though as there are some continuity errors in there too which make Mr.Statham’s facial hair fluctuate in length over the course of the film, which is kind of fun to notice. I haven’t even mentioned the music yet either, but that’s only just because I’ve been in therapy for the last week trying to erase all memory of it as it was like having every ‘middle of the road’ American rock album ever made pissed down your ears all at once. Sadly, Parker amounts to nothing more than a thriller bereft of thrills and whereby any instance of danger remains merely depicted, rather than experienced.
I give this film 2 Jason Stathams out of 5 Jason Stathams.