Reserve a special place in hell for movies that end up awful when they don’t have to be. To a list that includes Alex Cross, Savages and The Paperboy, add Parker. Taylor Hackford (Ray) is credited as director and John J. McLaughlin (Black Swan) with the script. But the movie seems untouched by originality or human hands. The title character, created by novelist Donald E. Westlake under the name Richard Stark, is a career criminal with no first name. He inspired many movies – one, 1967’s Point Blank, with Lee Marvin, is top-tier. Another, 1999’s Payback, with Mel Gibson, at least aspires to be.
Parker, with Jason Statham in the lead, inspires only disgust. Statham is born for this material. But he plays the role with as much enthusiasm as a paycheck actor going through the motions. Parker is out for revenge against his fellow thieves, led by Michael Chiklis, who steal his share of a robbery and leave him for dead. Ha! Parker never dies! Instead, he follows his former crew to Florida and plots to hijack their next heist with the help of a local realtor (Jennifer Lopez, miscast as a simple girl with a dream) who’s eager to walk on his wild side.
That’s it – a formula action movie that hits its formula marks as if no one expected more. I do expect more. So do Westlake fans. This Parker spits in our collective eye. Don’t blame us for spitting back.