Jason Statham is as appealing an action star as there is working today, but frankly, he has been in a bunch of truly terrible movies.
“Parker” isn’t one of those, but it’s not exactly the film that’s going to lift Statham onto the A list either.
An ill-fitting and predictable heist movie based on a Donald E. Westlake novel, “Parker” is still reasonably fun, for those who don’t mind a little blood.
Statham plays the title role, a professional thief with his own strict code of ethics. The film opens with a heist at the Ohio State Fair — not exactly “Oceans Eleven” on the complexity scale, but it’s a five-man job, and the other four don’t share the same code.
Things go wrong, Parker is left for dead, and he aims for vengeance.
Eventually the film settles in Palm Beach, where Jennifer Lopez implausibly insinuates herself into the story as a struggling divorcee named Leslie Rodgers.
Leslie can’t make a sale as a real-estate agent and lives unhappily with her shrill mother (Patti LuPone). When Parker hits town — disguised as a Texas millionaire as he scouts for his targets — Leslie gets the job of showing him various mansions and properties.
Where Parker is a stoic man of few words, Leslie rarely stops talking, and the character can be annoying, with a tendency to insert herself into the action in nonsensical ways. There’s also very little chemistry between the two characters, and with Parker having a devoted girlfriend, there are no romantic sparks.
Michael Chiklis makes a good foil as the main bad guy, but no one else stands out in the supporting cast. Nick Nolte is on board as a trusted partner and the father of Parker’s girlfriend, but his character actually does very little and eventually disappears.
Directed by Taylor Hackford (“Ray”), Parker isn’t as intricate as most heist films, but it does have a good energy, and the fight scenes aren’t bad. Still, won’t someone offer Jason Statham something better?
Rental recommendation: Lopez was considerably more effective paired with George Clooney in “Out of Sight” Grade: B+
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Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis
Rated: R (for strong violence, language throughout and brief sexual content/nudity)
Running time: 118 minutes