Jason Statham goes through the action film motions in Parker, Taylor Hackford’s boring, drawn out excuse for a revenge thriller. A two hour mess in which no one seems to be having a hint of fun, people fight and things blow up with little at stake, making for a long slog to a surprise-free conclusion.
Left for dead after a heist at the Ohio State Fair by his greedy team, the titular British con with a heart of gold predictably sets out to sabotage their next job and bring them to justice. Written by John J. McLaughlin, who surely can’t be the same person who penned the respectable Black Swan and Hitchcock, the film is yet another take on novelist Richard Stark’s double-crossed criminal. A seemingly eternal source of inspiration, the role has been played by Lee Marvin in Point Blank and Mel Gibson in Payback, among others, and while Parker may be the first adaptation to use the character’s true literary name, the distinction is the film’s lone accomplishment.
Shootouts ensue and the hardened characters talk tough, but it adds up to little of worth. The epitome of the mindless action star, Statham joylessly doles out comeuppance with the verve of a sleepwalker. As his partners-turned-enemies, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, and a near-mute Clifton Collins Jr., each supporting players with a history of respectable turns, force out some exceptionally bad acting. Not one to miss out on a sinking ship is Nick Nolte, whose impossibly slurred speech grows more indecipherable with each new film, offering little as Parker’s father-in-law/mentor. Challenging them all to a game of reputation Russian roulette is Jennifer Lopez, illustrating step-by-step why her stock has fallen so low. A walking confession, like a bad version of Bradley Cooper’s unfiltered Pat in Silver Linings Playbook, her Palm Springs real estate agent may aid Parker when he needs it most, but there’s no helping her performance.
Providing zero engaging components, Parker frees the mind to focus on the film’s more puzzling elements. Such standouts include our hero’s dense mustache that materializes out of sparse stubble (perhaps he’s a flesh-and-blood Wooly Willy?), only to vanish a few scene later sans razor; Statham’s embarrassing attempt at a Texas accent; and the crazed musings of Patti LuPone as Lopez’s soap opera-obsessed mother. Hackford, who seemed to know what he was doing with Dolores Claiborne and Ray, doesn’t have a clue how to inspire even mediocrity from the talent at hand and gets minimal help from McLaughlin’s sorry script. Their dreadful collaboration is an exercise in how not to make a film and demands to be ignored. Proceed accordingly.
Rated R for strong violence, language throughout and brief sexual content/nudity.
Parker is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.