THE STATH AND J.LO TAKE ON WESTLAKE.
Based on the novel Flashfire (which Westlake penned under his “Richard Stark” pseudonym), Parker follows the eponymous thief as he seeks revenge against the crooks (Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins Jr. and Micah Hauptman) who betrayed him and left him for dead after a robbery at a country fair.
to Palm Beach, Florida to spy on his betrayers as they plot their next heist. He enlists the aid of an unwitting and down on her luck real estate agent, Leslie Rogers (Jennifer Lopez), to help him locate his gang mates. But when Leslie catches on that Parker isn’t quite who he claims to be, the no-nonsense thief finds himself reluctantly stuck with a partner-in-crime.
Director Taylor Hackford delivers a routine thriller with Parker, a perfectly pedestrian piece of entertainment fine for watching on a flight or on cable some night. There’s precious little in the story that’s fresh, surprising, or particularly engaging, but Hackford’s cast does a decent job in helping to elevate the material beyond being merely average fare. That’s not to say the actors aren’t wasted, though.
Chiklis really has nothing to chew on here as the lead villain, a one-note criminal with precious little dimension. Bobby Canavale, so captivating on Boardwalk Empire this past season, is bafflingly underused in a forgettable and ultimately pointless role as a uniformed cop with the hots for Leslie. Patti LuPone hams it up as Leslie’s mom, while Nick Nolte grumbles his way through a small turn as Parker’s mentor and the dad of his love interest Claire (Emma Booth).
Ultimately, though, this is Statham and Lopez’s show. While they don’t really have any chemistry together, they are perfectly acceptable here in their individual scenes. It’s nice to see Statham play someone far more vulnerable and prone to injury than we’re used to seeing from the star of The Transporters and The Expendables. Indeed, I don’t think Statham’s ever spent so much of a movie covered in his own blood before.
Statham employs a ridiculously bad Texan accent during part of the film that’s so awful it strains credulity that he’s not called out on its phoniness sooner. For her part, Lopez isn’t as awful as her haters might expect her to be, but again she and Statham never really click together on screen. She seems to be trying, but her character, while sympathetic, just isn’t all that interesting to begin with.
Parker has choppy pacing and several awkward transitions, and is never quite “high stakes” enough to feel like anything more than a TV episode. It has a few good fight scenes and some clever moments, but it’s ultimately a dull and by-the-numbers affair.
Parker is Tagged with a 6.0
- +Statham less invincible.
- +J.Lo's not ... awful.
- –Great ensemble's wasted.
- –Pedestrian filmmaking.
- –Generic and predictable.