Jason Statham is definitely at a point where you can describe one of his films as simply “Well, it’s a Jason Statham movie” and that tells you just about everything you need to know about in terms of tone, plot, characterizations, etc. It also more often than not tells you the quality you can expect in the end – decently entertaining but completely forgettable. For me, that description applies to The Mechanic, Safe, Homefront, Killer Elite and now, Parker.
I’m not familiar with the Richard Stark novels the character comes from so I’m not able to draw any comparisons, though based on what I’ve read that’s likely a good thing as it would also make me like it less. The character definitely feels very similar to a lot of other Statham characters though so I can’t imagine it’s too loyal to the subject matter. He’s got a code, he’s brooding with a hint of dry humour, and he is generally interchangeable with the Transporter or really any other Statham character. The guy can act so it would be interesting to see him stretch his acting muscles just a little bit instead of these generic “I have a set of rules and I’m badass” characters he keeps going back to.
Following a successful heist at a state fair (probably the best scene of the movie actually), Parker is upset with his crew at how the plan went down and refuses to put up his share of the money to go towards a bigger heist. They shoot him a bunch of times and leave him for dead. He is found by a couple of farmers and once he recovers, he begins his long, long plan for revenge. He eventually meets Jennifer Lopez as a depressed realtor who is struggling to survive financially after being fucked over by a recent divorce. Parker poses as a Texan (and yes it is the worst Texas accent you will ever hear in your entire life) to get her to show him around so he can find where his former partners are hiding. She eventually makes her way into his plan and then a couple action beats happen. The end.
The first chunk of Parker is quite good. The state fair heist is well executed and I liked the part where Parker calms down a security guard who is losing his shit about being robbed. I did read that this is something the Parker character would never do in the book so again I’m glad I haven’t read them as it would have taken away one of rare moments I enjoyed. The actual betrayal scene is tense and I’m always a fan of action scenes contained within small spaces, this one featuring a fist and gun fight contained inside an SUV. It helps that his crew is full of recognizable faces including Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins Jr, and that guy who played Michael J Fox’s boss on his recently canceled sitcom. So you got yourself an undeniably great cast but once Parker begins his revenge plan, things get dull and a few brief shots of life here and there don’t do much to bring things up.
Statham is Statham, there really isn’t much more to say beyond that. He handles himself well in the action scenes and obviously can play this character in his sleep at this point. I can see why fans of the novels may not have been crazy about this choice as like I said, he does little to make Parker stand out from any number of characters he’s played before. His crew members are all solid actors but they hardly have anything to do, disappearing for the majority of the film until the end. Aside from one guy who is the coward of the group, none of them have any definable characteristics. You know what though, even though her character often felt completely unnecessary, I kind of dug Jennifer Lopez. She was just so enthusiastic about taking part in Parker’s plan where you would expect her to be horrified and a reluctant participant. Her joyful take on the whole thing ended up being one of the few bright spots for me. Sure taking her character out of the story would leave it largely unaffected and also would have made the movie significantly shorter, but I ended up pretty happy that she was around.
The action is sparse and satisfactory; with a fight inside of a hotel room being the probable highlight, if only because of a pretty brutal solution to having a knife held to your face. The majority of the film is Parker plotting out his revenge scheme but it’s not a very interesting one to watch be planned. Lots of driving around and looking at houses it seemed like mostly. All he really is doing is finding where his old partner’s are hiding, then waiting for them to steal something so he can steal it from them. It’s just not a very cinematic heist/plot. Also, normally I would appreciate a movie where the typical action climax is done on a smaller, more intimate scale as it is here. But when everything that preceded it was kind of a dull slog, this conclusion feels more like a fizzle out. I think there were a couple more action beats but I’m honestly having trouble remembering and I saw this movie like 12 hours ago. I give it another 12 before it has faded from my memory entirely.
So yeah, that’s Parker in a nutshell really – mostly fine while it’s playing but instantly forgettable, which puts it at about the same level as many of Statham’s recent outings. At two hours long it is very slow at times and while thankfully I don’t know enough about the books to be upset at the lack of loyalty to the material, I still can’t recommend this one to anyone but the most die-hard Statham completionists.
Fun fact, as though I haven’t already hammered the point home that this movie is pretty generic – when looking for pictures to go with the article, I honestly couldn’t tell if the Jason Statham pics I was looking at were from this movie or from one of his other ones. So there ya go.