In Parker, the title character, played by Jason Statham, is a thief and a victim of his crew’s betrayal. He sets out to get back the money they took from him and then some.
Parker’s journey takes him to West Palm Beach, where he runs into a hot tamale named Leslie (Jennifer Lopez).
Adapted from the novel Flashfire, by Richard Stark, Parker works like a half-finished story hanging on to the hope that if there is enough action (read: violence), no one will notice that the story is incomplete. Parker may seem like a good time at the movies, but glaring missteps make it the story that never was.
In John McLaughlin’s script, Parker is in love with Claire (Emma Booth), whose father Hurley (Nick Nolte), inducted Parker into the business of taking things that don’t belong to him. Unfortunately, Booth and Statham have no chemistry and Booth can’t muster up enough acting ability to fake that she’s in love with Statham’s Parker.
Lopez’s Leslie, on the other hand, has what it takes and then some, the kind of fire and guts needed to keep Parker’s attention. Moreover, Lopez and Statham have far better chemistry than he has with Booth.
CITY ON DISPLAY
Director Taylor Hackford, who directed Ray, The Devil’s Advocate and An Officer and a Gentleman, doesn’t pay enough attention to the details for Parker to stick. Rather, Hackford spends too much time directing Statham to stand outside for no good reason than to
provide shots of the West Palm Beach coastline. They’re in West Palm Beach; we get it.
Then again, the large-print “West Palm Beach” floating over the city’s skyline was also a dead giveaway.
While Parker makes little sense having its main character in love with a boring waif instead of a real woman with beautiful and real complications, its minor characters make even less sense. Hackford and McLaughlin rely on the fact that Flashfire has a built-in fan base. There are quite a few filmgoers, however, who have never heard of the book. Those people need back stories, which McLaughlin didn’t deem necessary. There’s not enough to give the audience a clear definition of who the characters are.
Who is Parker, really? Who are Melander (Michael Chiklis), Carlson (Wendell Pierce), Ross (Clifton Collins Jr.) and August (Micah Hauptman), the men of Parker’s crew? These un-merry thieves have no problem being cold-blooded killers. However, Carlson is a chief with an Ohio fire department. So, how did he get into the thieving line of work, and why? August is “well-connected,” yet a two-bit thief. And what did Parker do before he became a thief?
None of the characters in Parker mesh well with each other, except for Lopez, who is always more likable in comedic roles. She steals this film from such talent as Chiklis and Pierce. Both men have played cops on Emmy-winning/nominated shows, but are not so award worthy when it comes to playing bad guys. They should stick with the good.
If it were possible to re-write the story, Parker would go a little something like this: Parker sets out to reclaim his stolen share of “found money” from his crew that wronged him. Meanwhile, his sister Claire is there for him when he needs her most: to patch up his wounds from being beat up all of the time.
Parker sets out for West Palm Beach, where he meets and falls in love with hot divorcee Leslie, who ends up being his match in wits and bravery. The ending? Parker and Leslie go on to an even bigger heist in the sequel.
Alas, the above story is not the real Parker, which is just an excuse to show Statham in action and flaunt J-Lo’s derriere. There’s nothing wrong with that if that’s what you’re into. However, Statham and Lopez deserve a much better film to explore their chemistry and action prowess.
That film, Parker is not.