I would hesitate to call Parker an instant classic but it certainly appears to be cut from the same bolt of cloth as another movie that contains the same character, 1967’s Point Blank. The latter film starred Lee Marvin as a no-nonsense criminal based on a series of crime novels by Donald Westlake writing under the pseudonym of Richard Stark. There was also a version of this character and book made with Mel Gibson in 1999 (Payback).
Parker stars Jason Statham and this should become a signature role for the British action actor. I’m not especially enamored when Statham turns up in roles like Transporter or Crank, but movies like The Bank Job or 13 or Killer Elite show what a good performer Statham can be when mixed with the right material and director. The helmer for Parker, Taylor Hackford has already proven himself as a better than average action director and in fact gives Parker an old-school feel in regards to its look and style of action.
Parker starts out with a grand scale robbery that at first seems effortless and yet goes south with the final twist being that Parker’s associates shoot him and leave him for dead on the side of an Ohio country road. Needless to say Parker awakens in a local hospital, knocks out an orderly, changes his clothes, boosts an ambulance and sets out on a mission of revenge against both the mob and the guys who done him wrong. First stop is a New Orleans rock bar where justice is swift, followed by a trek to Palm Beach, Florida.
Jennifer Lopez plays a real estate person that Parker chats up to help track down his ex-gang. Humor enters the story in odd ways, like Patti Lupone playing Lopez’s soap opera addicted mother and the fact that Parker’s has a loyal girlfriend and is thusly not really into J-Lo’s affection. But she’s onto his schemes and tries to convince him to take her on as a partner. The score is tens of millions of dollars of diamonds being displayed for a high society auction.
If you know the town of Palm Beach you know that is exudes wealth on every acre and can be shut down with its system of drawbridges at a moment’s notice. That ties into the plot and Hackford treats the coastal community like a character onto itself.
Michael Chiklis, Emma Booth and Nick Nolte are among the co-stars. Parker’s not against outbursts of gunfire, fisticuffs and knife fights that leave stigmata wounds – and that’s a plus in my book.
- Michael Bergeron