I have come to a realization. Even though I really like Jason Statham, I hate Jason Statham movies. Honestly, I do not think he has headlined a quality film since 2008’s The Bank Job. Parker, released this past weekend, continues the disappointing trend.
In Parker, Statham once again dons the guise of a career criminal (shocking, I know) as he seeks revenge against his former partners (led by a hilariously one-dimensional Michael Chiklis) who betrayed him during a heist. It is your standard revenge movie. Full disclosure: I was not expecting anything great from Parker, but like The Last Stand, I was at least hoping to be entertained. I was not, as Parker is all kinds of terrible.
The biggest sin of the movie is that it is not very interesting. Instead of cracking skulls, Parker mostly walks around and talks to people during the movie. The film has its moments of action and violence, but they are few and far between. Also, beyond perhaps one unique sequence, most of it is dull and run-of-the-mill.
Hurting Parker even more is that everything seems incredibly stretched out. It does not take Parker long to find out where Chiklis’s gang is at. Instead of taking them out right away, he engages in what I felt were nonsensical time wasters which did not seem to further his goal. The result is that it slowed the movie down considerably and lessened the threat of the Chicago mob (who was also after Parker for fairly flimsy reasons).
And there was Jennifer Lopez. Let’s make one thing clear: I do not have any hate for J-Lo. I think she is a very capable actress, has legitimate charisma, and has genuine comedic timing. In this movie, she provides some very nice and funny comic relief. But that was the big problem with her character. For starters, she is completely superfluous to the story, and the reasons why Parker teams up with her make zero sense. However, I am going to ignore that. The real problem is that the comedy she provides does not mesh well at all with the revenge nature of the film. The tone keeps shifting, and it seems as if director Taylor Hackford did not know what kind of movie he wanted to make.
That said, I did like the almost-romance she has with Parker and how it ultimately subverts expectations. Knowing Zack, he would likely enjoy this element. She also has a nice chemistry with Statham. The filmmakers should have saved it for another movie.
I did not realize that Parker was based on the literary character created by Donald Westlake until a few days before I saw it. The film is notable in that it is the first film adaptation which actually had the main character’s name as Parker. In previous adaptations, Westlake refused to license out the name. Westlake died in 2008, but his family clearly wanted some fast cash and, judging by this final product, was willing to piss on Westlake’s creation to do so.
Parker is not very good. As I have said before, I will take a bad, entertaining movie any day over a boring one. Parker is a boring one. I am becoming more and more convinced that Statham needs a legitimate critical and financial hit (now more than ever) if he does not want to wind up exclusively in the straight-to-DVD market.