Film review: Parker

posted at 9:31 am on January 27, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

What happens when a professional thief gets betrayed by his partners and left for dead in a ditch?  Most everyone else would find a new line of work, but not Parker.  He wants his cut — and he’ll stop at nothing to get it.

Parker comes from a series of novels and short stories by the late Donald Westlake, written under the pseudonym Richard Stark.  When I first saw the trailer, I assumed this was a remake of the 1967 film Point Blank with Lee Marvin, taken from the novel The Hunter.  (As an aside: an old school friend of mine, Duane Epstein, will shortly release a biography of Marvin titled Point Blank.) That film was remade with Mel Gibson in 1999 as Payback, a flawed but stylish noir piece that is one of Gibson’s better films.

This film, however, comes from the novel Flashfire, which has a different plot but the same basic betrayed-and-left-for-dead setup.  Jason Statham plays Parker, who wants revenge on a quartet of criminals who tried to kill him when he wouldn’t give back his cut to set up a big score in Florida.  Instead of the stylish cynicism, artistic cinematography, and snappy dialogue of Payback or Point Blank, though, Parker has the feel of a paint-by-numbers heist flick. While the action is well crafted, the outcome is never in doubt, and Statham is the same kind of relentlessly violent protagonist he is in every one of his movies.

Nick Nolte isn’t given much to do, and Emma Booth only marginally more.  Jennifer Lopez has a more substantial role as a down-on-her-luck real-estate agent who senses a break, and plays the part well — but the character seems more in the way of the story than integral to it. Michael Chiklis and Micah Hauptman have the most to do as villains, but the script allows only Hauptman to present any kind of depth to his character.  It doesn’t matter; they’re set piece villains used to provide targets for Statham’s vengeance.  Patty LuPone has fun in a smaller role, and Carlos Carrasco comes closest to finding the style of Payback, let alone Point Blank.

In the end — which takes three different climaxes to reach, by the way — Parker is nothing special, but not a bad popcorn flick if you keep expectations low.  Its best feature is the dearth of any worthwhile new films released this month so far to compete with it.  At my local theater, it was either this, Movie 43, or Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.   It’s very violent, and occasionally gruesome, so the R rating should well be heeded (also for a brief bit of gratuitous nudity).  It’s not for kids or teens, or anyone who doesn’t want to see blood smeared all over several rooms.


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Payback!

Laurence on January 27, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Makes me want to go watch Transporter again.

CW on January 27, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Laurence on January 27, 2013 at 9:50 AM

My thought as well. Even the name is similar. Payback: Porter, Parker: Um, Parker. :-P

ThePrez on January 27, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Why does Jennifer Lopez keep getting movie roles? Her acting is more wooden than an Algore lecture. And there are hundreds of younger and hotter actresses to show skin than her, the only “talent” she ever had.

wildcat72 on January 27, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Just saw Stratham in “Safe” this one faaaaar exceeded my expectations.

royzer on January 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

What is this apparently collective masochistic need of the Hot Gas pundarchy to tout the wares of those that regard us with disdain and contempt? It might be understandable if the product was at least culturally significant as well as commercially, but no, we just get the every so often “palate cleanser” of some dull-tasting Hollywood dreck or the adventures of steroid-addled asshats in tights.

In both cases it’s baloney with filler purveyed by scoundrels laughing on the way to a bank too big to fail.

/just sayin’

M240H on January 27, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Why does Jennifer Lopez keep getting movie roles? Her acting is more wooden than an Algore lecture. And there are hundreds of younger and hotter actresses to show skin than her, the only “talent” she ever had.

wildcat72 on January 27, 2013 at 9:55 AM

.
Her acting ain’t that bad. But I do like your “Al Gore lecture” analogy.

Her voice doesn’t betray “changes in emotion”, unless she’s laughing or crying.
She doesn’t have strong “body language” except when she’s fighting, like in “Enough“.
.
It would seem to me, that she would make a good Poker player.

listens2glenn on January 27, 2013 at 10:12 AM

mmm, popcorn

M240H on January 27, 2013 at 10:14 AM

… straight to DVD / Netflix /iTunes …

Pork-Chop on January 27, 2013 at 10:15 AM

good review Ed. I like Statham and this movie looks pretty good from the trailer. Statham is a hard workin’ dude and he does the badass role pretty well.

ted c on January 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM

I watched quite a few movies last year. Rented all of them from Redbox.
I think only one of them was released the theaters in January, which was the best-selling movie that month.
It was Haywire.
It was meh.
Hang in there Ed, the movies slowly get better.

22044 on January 27, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Thanks for the review Ed. This sounds like the typical garbage from the Hollywood left. I’ll pass on this one.

Zorro on January 27, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Mel Gibson in 1999 as Payback

…it was on the tube last night!…GREAT movie!

KOOLAID2 on January 27, 2013 at 10:18 AM

At my local theater, it was either this, Movie 43, or Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

A book? Walk? Museum? Creative project?

Rightys complain about the stuff Hollywood is putting out, yet spend money to watch whatever dreck they deliver. Why?

cozmo on January 27, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Came out in January/February. Movies that come out January/February are, generally, POOOOOP.

LtGenRob on January 27, 2013 at 10:34 AM

@ Ed… No Pro Bowl prognostications?

LtGenRob on January 27, 2013 at 10:36 AM

I do not know much about Statham and I like his movies but Renner in Hansel & Gretel just came out with a big public service announcement against guns. This is a joke since he just starred in a Borne film and now this gore slop. If they keep attacking my right to own a gun but make all of their films using guns and killing people than I will boycott their movies. Why can’t they keep their big mouths closed unless it is reading a script?

inspectorudy on January 27, 2013 at 10:49 AM

A book? Walk? Museum? Creative project?

Rightys complain about the stuff Hollywood is putting out, yet spend money to watch whatever dreck they deliver. Why?

cozmo on January 27, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Actually, I’m pretty much doing all of the above, too. It’s important for “rightys” to stay connected to culture, to criticize it and to acknowledge valuable contributions to it. If we aren’t engaging in the culture, we’re going to become irrelevant to it, not the other way around.

Ed Morrissey on January 27, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Love those Richard Stark novels. Parker was Jack Reacher before Reacher.

DaveyNC on January 27, 2013 at 10:59 AM

If Jennifer Lopez is nude – you will need to see it on a W I D E screen.

redguy on January 27, 2013 at 11:00 AM

@ Ed… No Pro Bowl prognostications?

LtGenRob on January 27, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Here’s one – What Difference Does It Make? WDDIM

redguy on January 27, 2013 at 11:01 AM

@Ed…saw what you did there!
Parker/Palin 2016
(:->)

KOOLAID2 on January 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM

I’d watch a movie called Parker, if it was about Star Parker. :)

Re Jason Statham, he plays pretty much the same character in all his movies, but if the plot’s good and meshes well with it, I guess it works.

22044 on January 27, 2013 at 11:21 AM

I am disappoint. I was hoping to hear Jason Statham speak Murrican in this one :(

Incandescent on January 27, 2013 at 11:22 AM

If Jennifer Lopez is nude – you will need to see it on a W I D E screen.

redguy on January 27, 2013 at 11:00 AM

JLo owes much of her success to that.

22044 on January 27, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Its best feature is the dearth of any worthwhile new films released this month so far to compete with it.

Not true: Go see The Impossible.

FiveG on January 27, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Dear Lord

Limerick on January 27, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Payback was disgusting. The dog was abused.

vityas on January 27, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Haven’t been to a full priced theater for almost a year. Either the $2 theater or DVD. Nothing has come out lately that can’t wait a few months.

michaelo on January 27, 2013 at 11:32 AM

At least this flick is not as god-awful horrendous as I heard “Movie 43″ is! The word is that film is resulting in one of those rare moments when all the movie critics seem to have united in universal agreement that the film not only stinks on ice, but possesses a stench that is drawing flies from as far away as Fiji!

pilamaye on January 27, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I find that J-Lo is a splendid subject for objectification. Beyond that…meh.

pugwriter on January 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM

J-Lo ruins it.

echosyst on January 27, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Just saw Stratham in “Safe” this one faaaaar exceeded my expectations.

royzer on January 27, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Just watched that one myself and was pleasantly surprised. I like Statham movies and was expecting a typical Statham vehicle. Well it was but it also had a rather better than usual story line with some interesting characters, not just targets for him. Not that there weren’t plenty of those.

Oldnuke on January 27, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Daughters are going to Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters tonight. They are hoping it will be so bad that it’s good. They were disappointed in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Fallon on January 27, 2013 at 12:11 PM

In the end — which takes three different climaxes to reach

You’re doing it wrong.

Rusty Allen on January 27, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Renner uses a crossbow in this version, although he’s used every weapon at one time or another, That’s an expensive schadenfreude no,
then again I didn’t find ‘Gangster Squad’ that bad/

narciso on January 27, 2013 at 12:31 PM

H&G was not especially good except that it got made in the first place. Apparently Millennials are getting tired of the PC veneer that has been painted over our society. The movie is wall-to-wall violent killing of middle aged childless home wrecker women. If you really want to enjoy it, watch a little of whatever is running on Bravo beforehand.

The dialogue was bad, though.

StubbleSpark on January 27, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Interesting that the version of “Payback” on Netflix has a different ending than my DVD version.
Go figure.
Still a good non-traditional Mel Gibson flick.

Amendment X on January 27, 2013 at 1:02 PM

and to acknowledge valuable contributions to it. If we aren’t engaging in the culture, we’re going to become irrelevant to it, not the other way around.

Ed Morrissey on January 27, 2013 at 10:59 AM

…what happens if you don’t see any contributions?
…if I don’t like the subtleties in the message they always want to bring drones in our culture…the only way I can think of to get them too change their message…is to hit them in the pocketbook…if enough people do it…and support the messaged product you more agree with…they are money driven and they have to change the message eventually!…by supporting them… I am becoming relevant to letting them continue to affect all the drones out there!…No?

KOOLAID2 on January 27, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Probably needs more nudity.

duggersd on January 27, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Probably needs more nudity.

duggersd on January 27, 2013 at 1:11 PM

…Hillary was preparing for her testimony!

KOOLAID2 on January 27, 2013 at 1:24 PM

‘Killer Elite’ with Statham, De Niro and Clive Owen was an awesome flick. But with Nolte in this one I’ll pass.

D-Bar on January 27, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Jason Statham is Jason Statham in Jason Statham: The Jason Statham story.

You should have just rented Gibson’s Get the Gringo from Redbox instead.

Daemonocracy on January 27, 2013 at 2:43 PM

I still don’t get the ‘if you don’t watch it, you can’t say you dislike it’ mentality, especially with the way you can’t vote with your wallet once you pay to see it.

If I’m not intrigued by this movie, why should I pay to confirm my lack of interest? If I’d be better served saving my money and doing something I enjoy instead…or even if I’d be better served doing nothing at all…how am I doing myself any good spending time and money on something I wasn’t inclined to do in the first place?

James on January 27, 2013 at 3:07 PM

I wonder if this is based on a series of books I read in High School?

Parker Steals
Parker Kills
It’s a living.

jaydee_007 on January 27, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Whether it’s bad or good, you had me with two words: gratuitous nudity. On my way to the multiplex now.

Pope Linus on January 27, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Aw crap… Why did they have to ruin a perfectly good popcorn flick by casting Jennifer Lopez?

[rolling eyes]

FlatlanderByTheLake on January 27, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Aw crap… Why did they have to ruin a perfectly good popcorn flick by casting Jennifer Lopez?

[rolling eyes]

FlatlanderByTheLake on January 27, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Why couldn’t they put JLo in H&W and Gemma Arterton in Parker?!?!

Nutstuyu on January 27, 2013 at 9:50 PM

Personally, I think Statham has been the best actor of the last 8 years. His movies are exactly as advertised: karate and car chases. His films are usually only about 90 minutes, and don’t preach to you and don’t try to convert you to some political or social issue…films like Transporter, Crank, Mechanic, Death Race, etc. are simply fun. How many movies have we seen that are 30 minutes too long? Never the case with Statham….always fun, always what you expected.

arizonateacher on January 28, 2013 at 1:24 PM