I acknowledge the fact that Jason Statham is the closest thing we have to an action hero for the new Millenium. Arnold and Sly are getting old, and there’s hardly a muscle-clad meathead in sight to take up their mantlepieces. I get that with the title of “Action hero” comes a sort of license to never, ever play a different character from what you always play. The only thing is, playing the same goddamn character in every movie doesn’t mean you can’t mix up your surroundings a little bit. Take Arnold for example. He’s battled Colombian Druglords, Terrorists, Predators, T-1000’s, Martian Plutocrats, and Kindergarteners for Christ’s sake, yet it seems like every single time Statham graces the silver screen he’s going up against the same rabble of miscellaneous thugs and attractive women that he’s ever done or apparently ever will. The latest entry in the Statham’s barrage of disposable action romps is Parker, the trailers for which promised everything we’ve seen already plus Jennifer Lopez. Parker keeps a suitable light-hearted tone and delivers on every base-level expectation of its star, but lame writing, poor pacing and an overall lack of originality prevent me from recommending it.
A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew’s latest heist.
In other words, blah blah blah Statham.
As I said above, Statham plays exactly the same character he usually does, and your enjoyment of the movie will really come down to whether or not that sounds appealing to you. The only thing that sets Parker apart from Lee Christmas, Frank Martin, etc. is his set of rules that he lives by. Think Robin Hood, only instead of stealing from the rich and giving to the needy he steals from the rich and mostly gives to himself or the people closest to him. I actually thought he was the best part of the movie, if nothing else in that he gives the audience what it came for; action, one liners, and the prompt for J-Lo to take her clothes off.
J-Lo herself feels like someone tried really hard to fit the actress into an action movie, but didn’t quite know what to do with her other than showcase her trademark badonkadonk as many times as possible. Leslie is supposed to come across as frazzled but spunky, but Lopez often overacts for comedic effect. It’s as if they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to make her character comic relief or possible love interest, so they tried for both and ended up achieving neither.
On the supporting end, we have Michael Chiklis as head bad-guy Melander (seriously, wtf kind of name is Melander?), who also never rises above interchangeable heist movie villain. Oh well, I suppose they can’t all be Edward Norton, can they? On the opposite end, Nick Nolte shows up as Parker’s sorta-Father in Law Hurley. Nolte seems to be gunning for a Mickey Rourke-esque comeback between this, Gangster Squad and 2011’s Warrior, but aside from his voice the only thing he really has going for him is… I’m drawing a blank. He’s basically a Gravelly voice coming out of a pudgy, misshapen face at this point. As far as Hurley goes as a character, they try to use him to give Parker some deep-ish sounding monologues about “Principles” and such, but the thing in my mind during those scenes were “Get on with it!”
Jesus, after this and Bullet to the Head I’m beginning to forget what natural sounding dialogue is like, at least among supporting characters. Listening to Melander’s squad of goons or Leslie and her mother banter back and forth made me roll my eyes so much, I left the movie feeling dizzy. Hyperbole, hyperbole I know but the point remains. Is it really that hard to listen to how people talk and then make an effort to replicate that in script form? If nothing else, seeing the writing in this movie has completely killed my resolve to see Hitchcock, now that I know they were penned by the same hand (John J. McLaughlin)
The Verdict: 5.0/10 Mediocre
+ Doesn’t take itself too seriously
+ Statham’s still one of the most physically impressive action stars of the new generation
– Very lame dialogue, 1 joke in 5 actually lands
– Nothing new to differentiate from Statham’s other films
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%
Average: 5.0/10 – Mediocre