Parker (2013)

(On Cable TV, November 2013) Jason Statham can act quite a bit better than his usual screen personae allows, and while I do like his stock character a lot, it’s a shame that we don’t see him attempt more ambitious movies than cookie-cutter efforts such as Parker.  It’s not that Parker is badly made: Director Taylor Hackford knows what he’s doing and gives a nice gloss to his visuals –especially once the action moves to Miami Beach.  Statham is his usual gruff-but-charming self, while Jennifer Lopez gets a few comic moment as a desperate real estate agent.  But Parker really can’t rise above its generic nature: Not only has the “left for dead good-guy criminal seeks revenge” shtick been done to death, it has often been executed in far more economical fashion: For a film with such as straightforward plot, Parker overstays its welcome at nearly two hours –Lopez, nominally billed as one of the two lead characters, doesn’t show up until mid-movie.  It’s a bit of a shame that this first titled adaptation of Donald E. Westlake’s Parker novels is so generic: I recall Mel Gibson’s 1999 vehicle Payback with a lot more fondness.  (It’s not the only late-nineties to be favorably compared to Parker – it’s hard to see Lopez in this film without thinking about Out of Sight.)  The dead-end romantic subplot doesn’t help, and there’s a sense that much has been wasted in this hum-drum effort.  Ironically, the best reason to see Parker remains Statham himself –even in the most generic of vehicles, he remains curiously compelling.

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