You know…. I don’t think this guy is ever going to stop making these movies. Seriously, 10 movies ago I was making fun of how many of these types of action movies Jason Statham has made. Well, he’s still fucking at it. Now, some of his films are fun. I like the CRANK movies for how ridiculous they are, the first 2 TRANSPORTER movies are silly fun, and I really liked last year’s SAFE. But some of his films can be kind of tired too (like WAR). But he’s always solid in the movies. So, here we are again with PARKER, which is based on a novel by Donald Westlake.
Statham plays the title character, but he might as well be called Jason Statham, cause that’s who he is. The movie opens with a heist. Statham is working with some other criminals as they rob the money office at a State Fair. The heist is a bit shaky, but they all get away. One of the crew, Michael Chiklis, asks Statham to join them on a bigger score, which would require him to give up his share for this job. He refuses and the crooks shoot him and leave him for dead on the side of the road. Uh, oh! You know what that means. That’s right, Statham spends the rest of the film tracking down Chiklis and his gang. He makes it a priority to screw up their next heist.
I guess that wasn’t enough story for the movie, because there’s a whole other storyline. Jennifer Lopez plays a flaky real estate agent who is behind on her car payments. She needs a break. Statham uses her (pretending to be looking for a house) to find Chiklis. She ends up helping him and falling for him, even though he has a loyal girlfriend. Oh yeah, and his girlfriend’s father is played by Nick Nolte, who helps him find criminal work.
So yeah, the movie starts off as your typical generic Jason Statham flick. The heist is pretty by-the-numbers. Nothing too impressive. We do get to see how nice of a guy Statham is (even if he is a criminal) as he talks a police officer down from a panic attack. There’s not too much action here. It’s mostly a heist picture as Statham tries to figure out how to outsmart the people who betrayed him. There are a few bursts of fisticuffs and shootings, but nothing too exciting. Which is fine, but in this case none of the characters are interesting at all to make the film worthwhile to sit through. By the 30 minute mark, I was getting pretty bored.
But then something happens… the movie gets much, much worse! Now, I walked into this movie without seeing any advertising at all. I only knew that Statham was in it. So imagine my surprise when at 46 minutes into the movie, Jennifer Lopez shows up. She’s a bumbling bimbo, as she flirts with Statham and a cop played by Bobby Cannavale. Even if it was a good character, it would feel like unnecessary padding. This whole portion isn’t needed at all. And to make it worse, her character is extremely poorly written. She was whiny, and came across as a bit of a floozy She is given some really bad dialogue. For example, after getting a cup of coffee at a restaurant, Lopez starts to walk out the door when Cannavale asks, “Where are you going to put that cup of coffee, between your legs?” And lopez replies with, “It’s big and black…. where do you think I’m going to put it?” WHAT?!? Are you fucking kidding me? That’s actually what I said out loud at my screening. She hasn’t been this bad since GIGLI! I was embarrassed. And it’s all down hill from here. The movie gets worse as it progresses.
Statham is doing his thing as usual. He’s fine here. He’s not the problem. It’s the material. Lopez isn’t the only one who sucks ass in this movie. Michael Chiklis gives a performance so phony that it could make one wish that he’d stay on the small screen. Clifton Collins Jr is in his” hamming it up” mode, which almost makes him seem like he’s in a parody or spoof. Even Nick Nolte isn’t good here. And I love the Nolte! He’s one of my favorite actors. So you know something went really wrong for him to give a bad performance.
Director Taylor Hackford has made some good movies. RAY was nominated for Best Picture even (though for the record, I didn’t care for that). I did really like DOLORES CLAIBORNE. That may be my favorite thing he’s done. Unfortunately, his work here seems uninspired to say the least. He does nothing to make anything interesting visually. It’s like he just threw his arms up and gave up. Statham’s last starring film, SAFE, wasn’t original either, but the filmmaker (Boaz Yakin) at least made an effort to make it fun. With stylized direction, you can make a mediocre film pretty damn good. But no. That’s not the case here.
I’m not sure how the novel is, but the script is terrible. Wow! It starts off generic, and then turns into GIGLI during the second half, when Lopez shows up. And its way too long. This should have been a breezy 90 minutes, but it’s nearly 2 hours! This could have been remedied if Lopez’s character was excised completely. It also doesn’t help that the movie has 3 endings, none of which are good.
I’m sure the average Joe moviegoer will be much kinder to this. They’ll give it a pass because they enjoy seeing Statham in a movie. It’s a safe formula. But I want my Jason Statham movies to actually be good. Do yourself a favor and just rent SAFE instead. You’ll be glad you did, because PARKER is a complete waste of time. ½ (out of ★★★★)
– Rated R for strong violence, language throughout and brief sexual content/nudity.
– Running time: 1hr 58min.