Monday, February 11, 2013

PARKER (2013)

Written by John J. McLaughlin

Directed by Taylor Hackford

Where & When: Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA. January 29. 2013, 7:30PM

Parker is a cold, professional thief who displays no remorse for his crimes in a series of novels written by Donald Westlake, under the pseudonym "Richard Stark", and made his first appearance in, "The Hunter" in 1962. Inevitably, Hollywood took notice and made the first film using the character in "Point Blank" starring Lee Marvin. Over the years, the character has reappeared in several films with an interesting collection of performers in the role from Mel Gibson, Jim Brown, Robert Duvall to even French actress, Anna Karina but none of them were ever called, "Parker". Now, Jason Statham takes on the criminal in the first film to actually use the name, "Parker". The film certainly offers plenty of action, thrills and star power in the sexy form of Jennifer Lopez but lacks anything to make it memorable.

Parker successfully pulls off an elaborate heist with a group of men, lead by Melander (Michael Chiklis) that he's never worked with before. Afterwards, he's informed that his cut of the money is expected to be invested for an even bigger payday in Palm Beach. Parker declines the offer but soon realizes that it's not optional. After engaging in a bloody battle, Parker is left for dead by the side of a road. He manages to survive which lead to his relentless, deeply focused pursuit to enact some serious hurting to his betrayers. With some help from his mentor, Hurley (Nick Nolte) and after making sure his girlfriend (Emma Booth), who also happens to be Hurley's daughter, is safe, Parker heads out to Florida.

Parker tears through the city in search while he strongly encourages anyone who might know their whereabouts to give him information. Melander is soon made aware that the assumed dead man is still among the living and hires a hit-man (Daniel Bernhardt) to take Parker out for good. After getting a tip on where they might be hiding out, Parker hires a hungry, real estate help him search through neighborhoods while posing as a rich Texan. Ms Lopez plays Leslie, a financially strapped, forty-something forced to live with her mother (Patti LuPone) and desperately needs the commission that this potential sale will bring. Soon after discovering that Parker is not the man he claims to be, Leslie winds up getting tangled in his dangerous revenge plot.

Taylor Hackford has always been a solid director crafting some fine entertainment such as the classic "An Officer and A Gentleman" and "Ray", the vibrant bio-pic on the r&b musician that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Even his lesser works have managed to be superficially appealing and that certainly holds true for "Parker".  With a plot that is very straightforward and obligatory, "Parker" takes no risks and offers nothing that hasn't been seen before (or done better) yet still can't help to be swept up in to the adventure.

Mr. Statham has never been the most expressive of actors as he's a man of few words while allowing his fists to do most of the emoting. The British actor doesn't stray too far from his comfort zone as his attempt to put on a Texan accent is laughable but he knows what's expected of him and he doesn't fail to deliver. Ms Lopez's role seems like something she would have done at the start of her career as it's nothing more than a supporting part and not a particularly interesting one, at that. She manages to juice it up with her natural charm and sex appeal but you still can't escape the feeling that she's slumming.

Considering some of the talent involved in "Parker", what was expected was something in this action-thriller that is distinctive and uncommon but all that is delivered is banal and mediocre.