To an extent, all I need to say here is ‘This is a Jason Statham Film’.
Fans of The Velcro Warrior will almost certainly find much to enjoy in this tale of a high-principled villain wreaking vengeance on a team of distinctly amoral crooks. But those of you who don’t already like The Stath shouldn’t choose this one if they’re looking to have their mind changed.
Parker doesn’t quite have the existential élan of The Transporter, but then it doesn’t have the careless contempt for its audience that Expendables 2 displayed either. It’s somewhere in the middle. Maybe a stubbly hair above Safe.
From here on in we’re into mild spoiler territory. But then this was never a film that set out to surprise you.
When the movie opens, Statham has his Transporter suit on, but he seems to have accessorized it with Julian Assange’s hair. That soon comes off though as we realise that it’s his disguise for an elaborate heist in a fairground.
The fact that a couple of the crooks are dressed as clowns is about the only connection with The Dark Knight. Nevertheless something about the first reel of the movie, where Staham’s character gets himself across America after having been left for dead, made me think of the missing chunk of time in Dark Knight Rises where Bruce gets himself back to Gotham from a standing start in a subterranean jail.
I don’t think The Batman would commit quite so many crimes in his cross-country trek, but if you dropped Parker into the middle of DKR there’d be fewer people complaining about a plot hole.
For a guy who specialises in ass-kicking Jason Statham gets beaten up a lot in this movie. Barely a minute goes by without him getting shot, stabbed, stamped on or shouted at. The famous Statham combat skills aren’t really on display until the final act.
Something that is on display is the J-Lo physique. I don’t want to make a federal case of this. Jennifer Lopez is a 43 year old woman. She knows what she’s doing. If she wants to strip down to her bra and pants for a scene in a film that’s up to her. And she is undeniably pleasant to gaze upon. But personally I found the scene in which she is required to get her kit off gratuitous, exploitative, and uncomfortable to watch. Your view may vary.
Statham’s character is clearly motivated by a single-minded, almost obsessive, desire for revenge. Lopez seems to have very peculiar motivation throughout – and an undeveloped relationship with a character who disappears, unexplained, midway through the movie. Patti Lupone plays her mother, whose motivation seems to consist of ‘whatever will move the plot along right now’.
The movie’s directed with an almost aggressive lack of flair by veteran Taylor Hackford. He really likes the locked-off shot. If there’s even half an excuse for a ‘passage of time’ shot he’ll do it. At one point a five minute drive along a freeway gets a locked-off sunset shot.
If the film as a whole make me think of Dark Knight Rises, the final caper is pure Adam West. The villains don’t have their names embroidered on their sweaters but that’s about all that’s missing.
If I seem a little negative that’s not intentional. Parker is a perfectly serviceable film in almost exactly the same way that a Big Mac is a perfectly serviceable meal. Not special, but not terrible either.
Michael Chiklis is solid, Lopez is appealing and Statham is Statham. Sometimes, that’s enough.
If you do like this film. The good news is that there are 20 more books with this guy in – and there’s every chance that some more of them will be made into films before long.