Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on January 25, 2013
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)