Parker is a revenge saga about a highly principled thief, portrayed by Jason Statham. The premise follows the titular character who, following a successful heist at the Ohio State Fair, tries to part ways the men who hired him. Unwilling to oblige he is left for dead by his perfidious team members, led by the double-dealing Melander, played by Michael Chiklis. But unfortunately for Melander, Parker survives, and is now out for revenge.
Parker is an adaptation of the novel Flashfire, the 19th of 28 novels written by the late Donald E. Westlake, under the alias Richard Stark. It is also the latest endeavour of Oscar winning director Taylor Hackford, perhaps best known for being the husband of fellow Oscar winner, Dame Helen Mirren. Despite having earned critical acclaim in the past with Ray Charles biopic, Ray, Hackford is unable to make Parker an engaging affair. He exhibits some erratic direction in specific scenes. Perhaps the screenplay by John L. McLaughlin, responsible for Black Swan, is to blame. Nonetheless, with different talent behind it, a more captivating thriller could have been made here.
Jason Statham excels in the sort of role he’s most known for, he exerts considerable energy and exudes intensity in his search for vengeance. The believability of the entire story hinges firmly on his performance, luckily he is able to use his significant experience in action movies to his advantage. Statham’s role is strikingly similar to his work in recent movies, such as Safe, Crank and the Transporter series, but this is by no means a bad thing.
Jennifer Lopez is assigned the task of adding some glamour and beauty to the film. Sadly her appearance is lackluster, combined with her bland acting skills, she doesn’t add a great deal. She plays a distraught damsel, but her execution is devoid of any palpable emotion. She is miscast in the role and is bereft of any tangible sensibility. She represents the most wince inducing aspect of the movie. The antagonist is played well by Michael Chiklis, best known for his role in the award winning television series The Shield. He is the epitome of charisma as the villain. Unfortunately, with the little screen time he is afforded, he doesn’t leave a lasting impact.
The fight sequences, in particular the hand to hand combat between Parker and the contract killer Kroll (Daniel Bernhardt), are well choreographed and of a brutal nature. The caper is set predominantly in Miami and the environment is captured quite well. The coup de grace could have been more interesting instead of being prone to predictability.
In conclusion, Parker is not a distinguished thriller in the same vein as the Die Hard franchise or the Bourne series. Statham is the stereotypical action hero in this run-of-the-mill affair and Parker is tantamount to nothing more than a routine, run-of-the-mill flick. It is lamentable that justice is not done to the work of prolific crime fiction author Donald E. Westlake.