Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Parker

ParkerCinema Monolith: 5/10 Film Reel
IMDb: 6.1/10
The Arizona Republic: **½ out of 5

Released on January 25, 2013
Rated R
118 minutes

Directed by Taylor Hackford

Written by John J. McLaughlin, based on the novel by Richard Stark

Cast: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Nick Nolte, Clifton Collins Jr, Bobby Cannavale, Patti LuPone, Carlos Carrasco, Emma Booth, Micah Hauptman, Billy Slaughter

Since I was already a fan of Jason Statham, and had read and enjoyed a few of Richard Stark’s novels featuring the Parker character, I went into this film with very high hopes. Which might’ve been a mistake, because I went into it expecting a film that fit the tone of the books, instead of preparing for a film that fit the tone of Jason Statham. Normally, this isn’t a bad thing—it’s why I enjoy him and most of his tough-guy action films in the first place—but I was hoping he would maybe ease it down a bit, follow the lead of his character in The Bank Job perhaps, and try to keep his actions a little more restrained.

Here, as he does with nearly all of his roles, Statham played the code-honoring ‘good’ bad guy Parker as a one-man ass-kicking machine, who following a heist gone wrong is left for dead by his double-crossing partners; none too happy about the situation, he soon goes after his share of the take. Along the way he teams with Jennifer Lopez’s real estate agent—seemingly thrown into the mix to provide comic-relief window dressing, though admittedly she dresses quite a window—to help track his former partners, who’ve high-tailed it to a rental home hideout in Palm Beach, Florida.

If this short synopsis sounds familiar, then you fell into the same trap I did; I assumed this was another remake of Stark’s novel The Hunter, which had already been filmed twice before, as the Lee Marvin vehicle Point Blank and the Mel Gibson thriller Payback. Inexplicably, both The Hunter and Stark’s crime novel Flashfire hinge upon an identical set-up, and for whatever reason, the filmmakers decided to adapt Flashfire instead of sifting through any of the other Parker adventures available to them. Still, for Statham fans, I guess you could call Parker a must-see, even if by film’s end it’s still more of the same; for everyone else, I’d recommend Payback if you’re looking for a better representation of the material.

And as far as his physical appearance goes, and to some extent his attitude, Statham does make a suitable Parker, but sadly, his portrayal was too far removed from the literary character to make the film worth my while. And oddly enough, Parker was directed by Taylor Hackford, who’d helmed such films as An Officer and a Gentleman and White Nights; definitely a change of pace here, but I’d read where Hackford wanted to make this his first ‘film noir’ movie. I’ve got news for you, Taylor: you should watch a few noir films before you try to make one, because Parker was about as close to noir as The Breakfast Club.  (5/10)

Parker - photo Jason-Jen final

4 comments on “Parker

  1. Popcorn Nights
    4/3/13

    Interesting stuff Todd. I’m not a Statham fan at all (actually, to be fair I’ve no gripe against the man himself, it’s more to do with the films he chooses) and have never heard of the character – those books seem to have passed me by up until now. I haven’t seen Point Blank or Payback either; the former is on my ‘must see’ list and I’m hoping to get round to it in the next couple of months, but looks like you’re recommending the latter too there so I will keep an eye out.

    • Todd Benefiel
      4/3/13

      I’m a Statham fan, but of the films of his I’ve seen so far, there’s only been a few that I’ve really liked; like you said, it’s the choice of film that really lets him down. And I’ve really enjoyed those Parker novels, and am hoping to pick up more down the road. What I’d like to see would be Statham in that Parker role again…just as long as someone else writes and directs!

      And I’m curious to hear what you think about Payback, if you do check it out. I really love ‘wronged guy gets revenge on jerks’ stories, and this one fits the bill nicely. There are actually two versions out there: the theatrical version, and Brian Helgeland’s director’s cut, that basically puts his original idea back together after the studio re-wrote, re-shot, and re-cut some of it for its theatrical run. I’ve seen both, and although you’d think I’d go for the Helgeland cut, I think I enjoyed the theatrical version more. And if you do watch the original, yes, it’s supposed to have a ‘blue steel’ tint to it!

      • Popcorn Nights
        4/4/13

        Excellent – thanks. I like those kind of wronged guy stories too. I will add it to my watchlist, although it’s currently at about 150 films so it might be half a decade before it finally arrives in the post. I need that lottery win so I can quit working and watch more!

      • Todd Benefiel
        4/4/13

        My Netflix queue currently holds 304 movies, so if you win that lottery, and decide you won’t be using a sizable chunk of it, please send it on to me, so I can quit work, too!

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