Directed by Taylor Hackford.
2013. Rated R, 118 minutes.
Parker (Statham) is a professional thief who run big-time burglaries. With the help of a crew run by Melander (Chiklis), a group he’s never worked with before, he successfully robs the Ohio State Fair of about one million dollars. Instead of splitting the money as previously agreed to, Melander suggests they put all the money toward a bigger score that will net them a few million bucks each. Parker balks at the notion and winds up in a roadside ditch with several bullet holes in him. Thanks to some good Samaritans who happen to be driving by, he makes it to the hospital. Of course, as soon as he opens his eyes he escapes and goes looking for Melander and the rest of his cronies. A broke and lonely real estate agent played by Jennifer Lopez figures into things later.
While watching that setup, I am immediately reminded of the Mel Gibson flick Payback. Gibson’s character there, and Parker in this movie, are essentially the same guy. Indeed, the two movies play out in much the same manner as far as major plot points go. The biggest difference between them is in tone. Payback strikes a darkly comic one, quite brilliantly in my humble opinion, while Parker plays it as a straight up action flick with the usual small doses of humor, here and there. This is where the movie’s biggest problems are. No, it’s not a terrible picture. It’s just that with little or nothing to truly call its own, the conventionality of its frame is laid bare. Surprises are minimal.
It doesn't help that our hero is a pretty flat character. We get that he’s been wronged and he’s incredibly focused on getting his just due. Unfortunately, that’s it. We understand that he loves his girlfriend Claire (Booth) and her father Hurley (Nolte). However, the depth of that love is summed up in the fact that whenever he does something to piss off another bad guy, he calls them on the phone to tell them someone’s going to be coming for them. Gee, thanks.
On the other hand, J-Lo’s Leslie is much more fleshed out with a good deal less screen time. The movie pushes the sympathy envelope hard with her, and simultaneously uses her for comic relief. However, it’s an up and down role that Lopez struggles with. Unlike many, I actually think she’s a fine actress. It seems to be at least as much an issue of presentation and writing as it is of her. How we’re supposed to take her changes from scene to scene and the jokes she’s given aren't funny. Besides, as good as I think she is, comedy has never been her strong suit.
All is not lost. Remember, this is an action flick. It’s a Jason Statham action flick, at that. Most people will watch to see our hero beat the crap out of and/or kill lots of bad guys. That’s precisely what he does. True to form, it’s brutal, bloody, and exciting stuff. His first fight, inside a moving SUV, and one he has later in a hotel room take top honors. Both are just plain fun to watch, no matter how preposterous they may be. Speaking of preposterous, even though the idea that Park is affected by all the damage done to his body is a fraud, I’ll at least give the film credit for trying in that department. The point is, if you’re looking for a testosterone fueled popcorn flick you could do a lot worse than Parker.
MY SCORE: 6.5/10