Parker is the laziest movie to come down the line in a long time. It is a remake of a remake. Among other films, the director, Taylor Hackford, made “Ray,” “The Devil’s Advocate,” and “An Officer and a Gentleman.” The writer, John J. McLaughlin, wrote “Hitchcock” and “Black Swan.” Did they just want to make a quick buck? Did they get tired of more challenging films and want to cleanse their pallet with a “no-brainer?” Whatever the case may be, they succeeded all the way.
You have seen Parker before (I did mention it was a re-remake). It was called “Payback” in 1999 with Mel Gibson and was called “Point Blank” with Lee Marvin in 1967. Hollywood has not run out of original and creative stories yet; therefore, a retread of the double-crossed man exacting revenge on the crime syndicate which wronged him should not have already popped up in the hopper yet. Shame on all involved here.
Parker (Jason Statham) is an extremely skilled thief, car-jacker, marksman, knife fighter, amateur doctor, and all around master planner. We have no idea where he learned his tradecraft because the movie does not waste time with backstory; it begins right at the start of a major heist. The score is one of the lamest targets in recent crime memory, the Ohio State Fair. The guy who put the crew together, Hurley (Nick Nolte), says the fair pulls in over a million dollars in a weekend; that is a lot of cotton candy and snow cones. Parker is the gang’s point man and the other members include Melander (Michael Chiklis), Carlson (Wendell Pierce), Ross (Clifton Collins Jr.), and the big boss man’s nephew, Hardwicke (Michah Hauptman).
After a successful robbery and get away, the rest of the gang double-crosses Parker and leaves him for dead on the side of the road. Since the screenplay brings nothing new to this version of the story, Parker does not die and begins to track down the wrong-doers to get his money back and teach them a lesson. Parker is a man with principles. He frequently declares that if you say you will do something, you do it — if you enter into a contract, you fulfill your end of the bargain. These principles must have gotten Parker in trouble before because when he takes off his shirt there are more bullet hole wounds and knife scars than there is clear skin.
The first half of Parker at least moves along. Parker steals one car after the other, beats up one bad guy after another, and ends up in West Palm Beach where the gang is about to commence their next big score. Here is where the film stops dead in its tracks and it is due to one character, fledgling real estate agent Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez). She is deep in debt, lives with her mother, Ascension (Patti LuPone), and has never sold a house or even a condominium. Her most effective skill is to kill any and all momentum Parker had going for him. Leslie and her mother are also the least believable characters in years.
Leslie knows Parker is up to no good but out of nowhere, tracks him down and throws herself at him wanting to get in on whatever scheme he has going on. Her mother is even worse. Parker shows up at their house a bloody mess trailing guts and pints of blood all over the floor and Ascension doesn’t even blink. A cop shows up at the door and both ladies do their best to hide him because, well, we have no idea why; I suppose it is because the script just needs it to happen. Since Leslie is played by Jennifer Lopez, there also must be scenes which have no business being in the movie except to make her disrobe and turn around for the camera. Unlike Ben Affleck, Lopez has not recovered from “Gigli.”
Even though Leslie’s character destroys the movie, Lopez is not the worst actor in it. Michael Chiklis earns himself this dubious honor. Every line is overacted. He yells, screams, and makes his eyeballs bulge when just a scowl would have done the trick. Wendell Pierce, who you will remember from the television program “The Wire,” and Clifton Collins Jr. do their best to try and tone down Chiklis’s ridiculous ravings to no avail.
The fight scenes are adeptly thought through, however. The filmmakers envisioned blood, blood, and a bit more blood. If script, pacing, or logic are not your things and you only love mindless and gratuitous violence, mayhem, and pulp, Parker is the movie for you. Otherwise keep yourself far removed from this terrible movie.