*** (out of 5)
January 25, 2013
Jason Statham as PARKER
Jennifer Lopez as LESLIE RODGERS
Michael Chiklis as MELANDER
Nick Nolte as HURLEY
Wendell Pierce as CARLSON
Clifton Collins Jr. as ROSS
Emma Booth as CLAIRE
Michah Hauptman as AUGUST HARDWICKE
Bobby Cannavale as JAKE FERNANDEZ
Directed by: Taylor Hackford
BY KEVIN CARR
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Whether you like the selection of movies in early 2013 or not, you can credit or blame “The Expendables” and “The Expendables 2.” We are now in the middle of a run of films featuring the various stars from that series.
Last week was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the headlining role in “The Last Stand.” Next week, Sylvester Stallone will punch the big screen in “Bullet to the Head.” And in a couple more weeks, we get a new “Die Hard” film with Bruce Willis. In the midst of all this, we have Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren teaming up again in the DVD release of “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.”
But don’t worry, folks. You won’t see Randy Couture headlining a major movie anytime soon.
This week, our tough guy action film is “Parker,” starring Jason Statham as the title character. In the movie, he plays a good-hearted thief who is doublecrossed, shot and left for dead when the other men on a heist betray him. Once he nurses himself back to health, he seeks revenge and the money he is owed from the job. This leads him from Ohio to Florida, where he discovers a huge score his old team is planning, so Parker decides to cause some problems.
I’ll put my cards on the table here. I like Jason Statham action movies, for the most part. And I respect him for making them. He has no delusions of why he is famous. The guy has made a career out of releasing what amounts to modern B-movies in January and September. So, while “Parker” is hardly a fine work of art, it is perfectly enjoyable, the way a Big Mac and fries tastes really good now and then.
Directed by Taylor Hackford, whose career has been filled with much more respectable films like “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “White Nights” and “Ray,” “Parker” is an attempt to make a cheeky action crime drama. Hackford isn’t taking things too seriously with the movie, and he’s just having fun. However, he doesn’t turn it into a spoof of the genre. It seems, in a way, he is paying homage to the tough guy crime films of the 80s and 90s, and he ended up making a neat flick.
It’s not high art, but it has some great villains in it, and Statham works as his stock character. There’s not wall-to-wall action in the film, as it is a heist movie at its heart, but there are some great moments. Oh, and there’s a couple scenes of boobs, which is always appreciated.
However, all of these good elements to the movie come crashing down when Jennifer Lopez comes on the screen. She plays the role as shrill and annoying as she has any other role. Maybe it’s a thing she has with otherwise respected directors in crime movies. After all, I had a similar reaction to her godawful appearance in Martin Brest’s “Gigli.” In fact, had I not known the release date, I would have suspected she had shot this film around this time, when “Gigli” torpedoed her somewhat promising movie star career. (Note that I said “movie star career” instead of “acting career.” It’s an important point.)
Honestly, I have no idea why Lopez is even in this movie. Her role is secondary at best, and it’s really not critical the overall storyline. (Case in point: I haven’t even mentioned her until now.) Every time she appears on screen, I tended to zone out. It felt like the role was written for a much smaller actress, and then when Lopez showed interest, they beefed it up without actually making things integral to the plot.
Make no mistake, Jennifer Lopez is the albatross around this movie’s neck. Whenever she’s on screen, it’s garbage. When she’s not, “Parker” is actually quite a bit of fun.