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Parker - Review

Parker

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

JASON Statham’s latest feels a bit like mutton dressed as lamb in the sense that it promises much more than it delivers.

Based on the books by Donald E. Westlake and a character who has already appeared in the classic movies Point Blank and The Outfit (albeit using a different name), Parker also boasts an Oscar winning director (Taylor Hackford, of Ray/Teenage Father fame) and a useful ensemble cast that also includes Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte, Bobby Cannavale and Wendell Pierce (of TV’s The Wire and Treme fame).

But despite all this and a promising set-up it underwhelms, serving as neither a decent action film to satisfy die-hard Statham fans nor a clever enough thriller to rise above the norm for this kind of thing.

Parker (Statham) is a master criminal who only steals from those who can afford to lose it and only hurts those who have it coming. He also has a strong moral code that means he never says anything he doesn’t mean.

When his latest job results in the death of an innocent, he’s made to feel very angry. But then when his latest crew (headed by Chiklis) double cross him and leave him for dead, he vows to get revenge.

This he does by tracking them down to Florida’s Palm Beach, the location for their next job (a high stakes jewel heist), and enlisting the help of a down-on-her-luck estate agent (Jennifer Lopez) to show him around the place.

Taken at face value, Parker could have been a smart little revenge thriller. But in current form, it struggles to convince on many levels.

Attempts to mix some hard-hitting violence with more comical aspects don’t really work, while Statham finds some of the dramatic elements way beyond him. He’s fine when cracking heads but awful when laying on an American accent and nowhere near slick or polished enough to carry off the more intelligent moments.

Lopez, meanwhile, feels utterly redundant and completely exploited, being asked to strip down to her underwear for the film’s most gratuitous moment but being offered nothing to work with beyond frustrated love interest.

The likes of Chiklis, Cannavale and Nolte, meanwhile, are completely under-employed, begging the question of what attracted them in the first place.

But then Hackford never balances the ensemble elements in satisfying fashion, thereby wasting any and all opportunities posed by such a useful cast.

Worse, he even bungles most of the action with few scenes demonstrating much ingenuity and too long gaps in between the set pieces during which nothing much happens.

Statham himself deserves some credit for starting to seek out meatier roles and for being able to surround himself in such good company. But Parker ends up feeling like a waste of everyone’s talents.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 112mins
UK Release Date: March 8, 2013</b.