Jason Statham plays Parker, a notoriously proficient thief who gets screwed over on a robbery he pulls with a bunch of cut throat, mob-connected criminals–headed up by the eternally blustery Michael Chiklis as Melander–who are upset that he doesn’t want to use his cut of the money to invest in the set up of their next, even bigger haul. Parker, being impervious to little things like being shot twice and left face first in a roadside swamp, is understandably troubled by the double-cross and goes after the thieves to exact his own particular brand of moralistic ass-kicking. He tracks them to Palm Beach, Florida where he hooks up with an unhappy-with-her-lot-in-life real estate agent named Leslie (Jennifer Lopez) who’s only too excited to get in on some action that might get her a little seed money for a brand new life. The two combine forces (he of the roundhouse kicks and she of the knowledge of local richies who might be auctioning off all of their extremely valuable jewellery) and aim to take down Melander and his crew once and for all.
So here’s the thing about Jason Statham movies; you’re either entirely on board for the dopey fun or you’re not. If you’re looking for a serious-minded action flick or, in this case, for Statham to live up to the previous incarnations of the Parker character (played by Robert Duvall and Lee Marvin no less), you’re going to be sorely disappointed. For me, Parker was a whole load of delicious mind candy that featured everything I expect from this type of film (thin but believable enough plot, tongue-in-cheek silliness, and the comfort in knowing that Statham wins every time) and even a few things I didn’t see coming (self-sufficient females! Crazy!!).
Director Taylor Hackford (helmer of films like Ray and The Devil’s Advocate as well as Mr. Helen Mirren) and writer John McLaughlin (he co-wrote Black Swan y’all) have created a trash cinema experience that’s perfect for shaking off the January blues. Do all of the pieces fit together seamlessly? Nope – not at all. Is most of what happens ridiculous and way too coincidental? Ab-so-freaking-lutely. Is Statham’s attempt at a Texas accent ear-bleedingly awful? It sure is! And that’s exactly what makes Parker so very entertaining from beginning to end.
Is Parker Opening Weekend Worthy?
If you love the Statham (and I don’t want to know you if you don’t) than this is a solid entry into his bum-whooping filmography. It’s well-paced, there are enough fight scenes to keep fans of that sort of thing happy and enough story to keep you engaged between punches. The cast also seems to understand that the film they’re in should not be taken seriously on any level and play it just campy enough to give Parker a comedic undertone. It all works surprisingly well, coming together to create Statham’s most entertaining flick since The Bank Job .
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