Andy Stuckey, Ryan Maddux
Greensburg Daily News
Jason Statham’s latest action picture is the heist film, Parker (R).
Statham stars as the title character who seeks revenge on his crew after they leave him for dead. Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis and Nick Nolte costar in the film. Taylor Hackford directs.
Ryan: Sadly this isn’t a documentary on former Pittsburgh Pirates/Cincinnati Reds great Dave Parker because that would have been made for an infinitely better film. If you’ve seen any of Jason Statham’s other action vehicles, then you know what you are getting here — an anti-hero with a code doing whatever he pleases while beating people to a pulp.
Sometimes this recipe works (The Bank Job) but not this time. The movie just seems like a recycling of Statham’s greatest hits (or not so greatest hits). There’s no doubt that Statham has the look and charm (to a degree) to be a bonafide action star, but a movie like Parker certainly is not going to move the needle in terms of a career boost. In fact it might be considered a step back.
Andy: I always find Statham’s movies surprisingly entertaining when you consider how simple the formula is that Ryan just outlined. Even Statham’s consistently one-dimensional characters always end up working a little better than it seems like they should.
At first glance, Parker is the same, but a few things end up making this movie seem much more perfunctory than most of Statham’s offerings. Of primary concern is the total lack of character development. Statham’s character is the only one that seems to have any kind of depth, but I think that comes from the audience knowing this type of character from his other movies, not from any nuanced performance or writing the movie offers. And a rote action movie with characters that are underdeveloped does not have much going for it.
Ryan: Parker has numerous issues. The biggest being just how silly it is — and action movies of this ilk cannot be silly. The opening heist sequence actually isn’t a bad piece of film-making but quickly disintegrates when one sees just how silly the characters act when the heist is over. I’ve never planned a heist (and never plan too), but it seems to me that it takes a disciplined and creative person to pull off a job. None of the crew who double-cross Statham ever display an ounce of discipline or brilliance in the non-heist scenes. In fact they act the complete opposite in the scene where they attempt to knock off Parker.
The other silly aspect of the film is Jennifer Lopez’s character. In all honesty, I have no problem with her performance, but her character is superfluous. It’s established early on that Parker already has a serious significant other, so whatever romantic tension that might have developed between Parker and Lopez’s character is a moot point. A potential romantic triangle also never develops.
Andy: While all of Ryan’s criticisms of Lopez’s character are legitimate, I would take it a step further and say that her actual performance was questionable as well. Her character does not emerge until about half-way through the movie, and it feels like she was reading lines from a script from the onset. At first I thought it was actual character development – that this character is just sleepwalking through life reciting what she thinks others want to hear. Then it became clear that this is just mediocre acting with a sub-par script. While J-Lo brings some star power, her presence in the movie just adds another layer of mediocrity to an already lackluster film.
Parker checks many of the boxes required for an action movie, but it offers little else. The lack of creativity and energy results in an under-performing action dud.
Final Score: D+