‘Parker’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 18th, 2014 at 3:45 am,

jason statham parker review Parker Review

Parker just doesn’t reach the comfortable middle ground between satisfying action junkies looking for exhilarating, witty thrills and satisfying viewers interested in a smart pulpy genre exercise.

Hollywood has been revisiting the late Donald E. Westlake’s Parker character since the 1960s, but Jason Statham breaks away from tradition – by possessing both his original name and a newfound conscience – in the simply titled Parker. The result feels at home with Statham’s moral criminal persona, but the remainder of the film is a departure from his past Euro-thrillers (The Transporter), extreme pop action riffs (Crank) and genre throwbacks (The Expendables, Safe).

Director Taylor Hackford and screenwriter John J. McLaughlin adapt “Flashfire” (the 19th of 24 Parker novels written by Westlake) into a hard-boiled crime-thriller that forgoes Noir-ish fatalism – found in Parker movies like Point Blank and The Split – as well as the dark humor Mel Gibson brought while playing “Porter” in Payback. Statham, per usual, embodies machismo as Parker, but his version of the character is closer to a Blaxploitation hero – operating on a moral code and stickin’ it to ‘the man’ (re: the undeserving elite) – than a ruthless crook with no redeeming values.

Parker introduces Statham as a saint among thieves; literally, he disguises himself as a priest during a robbery at the Ohio State Fair and keeps the people caught in the fray calm, while his compatriots dress as clowns and the cocky, inexperienced August (Micah A. Hauptman) carelessly puts the lives of innocent people in danger. However, things really go bad when the crew’s boss, Melander (Michael Chiklis), refuses Parker his share during the getaway, but promises a much bigger payout if he helps them on a new job. A fight ensues and Parker is left for dead on the side of the road.

Once he recovers, though, he sets out to collect the due pay(back) from Melander and his men (including Clifton Collins Jr. and Wendell Pierce). Parker follows them to Palm Beach in Florida, discovering their planned score involves $50-70 million worth of diamonds. There, he meets Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a divorcee pushing 40 who immediately sees through Parker’s fake identity as a Texas mogul looking to buy new real estate. Leslie agrees to keep Parker’s secret, on the condition that she gets a share from his payback scheme (in part as compensation for her years of enduring disrespect and being ignored by her wealthy clients).

parker chiklis collins hauptman pierce Parker Review

Hauptman, Collins Jr., Pierce and Chiklis in ‘Parker’

The elements are there for Parker to fly high as pulpy entertainment, with Statham playing the rare male badass who’s not a womanizer – rather, Parker’s committed to his girlfriend (Emma Booth) and her father/his friend (Nick Nolte) – and yet, still able to get his hands dirty in a creative fashion. Indeed, Parker finds way to hurt people using things like toilet tank lids and gun clips in creative ways that resonate on a deeper level of irony (and entertain anyone who’s just looking to watch Stath bring on the hurt). That violence is limited, but effective and responsibly bloody in execution, even when Parker hurts himself in a cringe-inducing knife fight.

However, Hackford’s direction, while competent, leaves something to be desired; similarly, there are some questionable editing choices along the way that stand out as clumsy and confusing in logic (ex. flashbacks during the middle-of-action in the opening robbery set piece). McLaughlin’s script has no pretensions about elevating Westlake’s dime novel tropes, but it also has limited fun playing around with them. As indicated before, there’s recognition of the appeal these stories have for regular people (see: a short montage where clueless rich people ogle diamonds is a fun setup, giving extra reason to cheer the working-class Parker and Leslie), just not enough and in limited doses. Steven Soderbergh’s collaboration with J-Lo on Out of Sight provides a great counter-example on how to properly treat similar material; Hackford’s film, by comparison, is far less lively and energized on all levels.

parker jason statham jennifer lopez Parker Review

Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez in ‘Parker’

When all is said and done, Parker just doesn’t reach the comfortable middle ground between satisfying action junkies looking for exhilarating, witty thrills and satisfying viewers interested in a smart pulpy genre exercise. Statham and his supporting cast do fine work, but they’re weighed down by unexceptional storytelling behind the camera. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting this is a unique Stath vehicle that has more going on than just allowing him to showcase bravado fight choreography – and it even plays with his eye candy status, in a scene featuring the ‘female gaze.’

In summation: if you’re interested in standard kick ass Statham entertainment, Parker will probably leave you bored. Everyone else, there’s an unremarkable but (mostly) satisfactory crime tale worth checking out, especially in comparison to what else is playing in theaters right now (though you’ll also be fine waiting to rent it).

Here’s the trailer for Parker:


Parker is now playing in theaters. It is 118 minutes long and Rated R for strong violence, language throughout and brief sexual content/nudity.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Parker
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  1. Thanks for the review Sandy,was planning to see it as soon as it comes to a theater near ! :)

  2. I keep hoping for that break out non-”Expendables” Statham hit. “Safe” was a gem, but just didn’t catch on. The “Transporter” series was successful, but only among the action group. This is not opening in near enough theaters (about 2,300, way less then the 3,500 or so for those opening #1) to do any better then a fifth place finish. I am still excited for it, but get the feeling I will have the theater to myself…

  3. Not sure if I would see this one not the biggest statham fan it I love chiklis and think Lopez looks hot in this so I’d see it for those two reasons

    • I’m not trying to be a grammar-Nazi, but your comment is nearly unintelligible without any punctuation.

  4. This review gives away too much of the plot. A review is not the same thing a a synopsis. I’ve always admired SR reviews for the ability to communicate the feel and quality of a movie without giving away spoilers. Skills reviewers can do that- lazy ones just recite the story. This review seems to have told the first half of the story, spoiling the viewer’s journey of discovery. For example, why tell us Parker was left for dead after a fight? Now, if I watch it I know what’s going to happen when the fight starts.

    One out of five stars for this review.

    • Perhaps because the “left for dead” scene is shown directly in the movie’s trailer. It’s not a spoiler. The review is balanced finely. Just two paragraphs are used to set up the plot and introduce the reader to the characters and their parts while the rest is used to discuss the direction, writing, characters, credits, and exactly what the movie has to offer.

    • Well, next time I’ll aim to be more ambiguous with the details, my apologies.

      For the record, though: I didn’t reveal anything that’s not in the trailer. The basic premise is that Parker’s out for payback after a job ends badly, which happens very early on.

  5. hmm I’m still wondering if I should go see it. not the biggest Statham fan, but I won’t say no to a fun action flick..

  6. So this is what… Transporter 8?

    Not sure if I’ll see this in theaters since the reviews says it’s light on Statham fighting, although Lopez on the big screen is compelling.

    And btw, other reviews I read also mention the betrayal beginning so it’s not really a spoiler.

  7. so i guess it’s like killer elite and the mechanic remake in that the action is sparse and the dialogue is flat… nothing too surprising given that he’s a limited (and pretty bad) actor :P

    here’s hoping that new movie which stallone wrote is more action heavy then statham’s recent movies (minus safe which was pretty good).

    • bullet to the head is 1,000 times better, it’s what parker should’ve looked like, just nonstop balls to the wall action, and the movie safe is also nonstop balls to the wall action

  8. See, I saw The Bank Job purely for Statham and thought it was alright and love Snatch and Jason doesn’t do much if any fighting in those so hopefully US moviegoers will start thinking of him as more than just an ex-professional diver turned action movie star.

  9. Like Statham, never really understood the Jennifer Lopez appeal. She’s a terrible actress (not Kristen Stewart bad, but bad) and having her in the film is probably going to hurt it more than help it. I’ll be surprised if this movie is a hit.

  10. Just watched it and to be honest find it hard to disagree with the 2.5 rating.

    First things first, to get it out of the way – J-Lo is absolutely smoking hot in this film. To be 40 plus and still look this amazing with all curves and shapes intact. You could do a lot worse than cast her as Wonder Woman for the Justice League movie.

    As for Parker itself, there’s not a lot to say. It’s just your standard, generic Staham flick. The plot may be slightly different but the end product is all the same. Statham’s lead is initilally wronged. left for dead, recovers, goes on the vengeance warpath, & batters everyone in sight.

    Therein lies the problem with Statham. I genuinely think he can prove to be a capable actor, but the scripts he chooses never forces him to expand his range. Yes he’s an action star, but his films are totally bereft of any tension, excitement or suspense. He’s normally so much tougher and one step ahead of everyone else that it’s all a bit of an anti climax come the end credits. Now this style may hav been more successful in the 80s but certainly not now.

    Watching Statham’s films reminds you of why Bruce Willis is held in such high regard even in his older years. Willis can still look just as battle hardened and completely convincing in bashing up the baddies single handledly. But he also has the acting sublteties to give his characters depth and actually make you care about is happening to the lead and character and the story. Statham has yet to find such conviction and sub standard movies like Parker wont help him in this regard. He can star in action movies of course, but he needs to find ways of making them more distinctive if he wants to make that leap to A-list star status.

    I will end my comment as I started , as I think it warrants another mention.

    J-Lo is smoking hot.

  11. The bank job is probably the best work statham has done. It would have been nice to see more of him in collateral with Tom cruise. He should try and mask the accent though. It’s like Arnold in the last stand (which was horrible) Forrest Whitaker says something to him on the phone and Arnold hangs up on him and Forrest replies “small town sheriffs” really? An Austrian who lives in Texas as the sheriff and you don’t point out the accent? Colin Farrell, Emily blunt, ect. Give us something different.

    • Thing is, I’ve heard Statham attempt an American accent in War and he just sounded like a Brit attempting an accent (much like most Americans sound like Dick Van Dyke when they try a Brit accent).

      Don’t know if he’s any better at it in this but he’s definitely someone who shouldn’t have to hide the fact he’s English, much like Van Damme always played French characters because of his accent despite being from Belgium.

      How old is Statham now anyway? 42? Maybe he picks mostly action movies while he still can but as said, it could hurt him because he is a pretty good actor but he’s best as one of those talkative chancers like in Snatch and The Bank Job.

  12. “…elevating Westlake’s dime novel tropes.” WTF? The reviewer obviously has no knowledge or has let alone read the Parker novels. They are more than mere pulp books. They aren’t on the same level as Ross MacDonald but please do yourself a favor and read a few if not all 24 books. Westlake’s prose is so sharp and effortless. The humor and violence are sophisticated. What the books lack in minute detail , gets forgotten with westlake’s taut, go for broke characters. These are page turners of the highest order and trust, they are hella elevated on their own.

    • You’re hella rude!

    • I didn’t mean that as an insult to Westlake’s writing. Some of the great novels and films alike used “dime novel tropes,” it’s the execution (re: prose, characterization, etc.) that makes the difference in quality.

  13. Frankly I regret watching it. In the theater, that is. It would have been satisfactory if it was some Friday night entertainment I had rented for 99 cents. I expected better! Story itself has potential, but the way it’s filmed… Overall very cheap. Class B if not less.

  14. @Sandy Schaefer

    Why does the HANSEL & GRETEL movei review include a “What do you think” survey but the PARKER movie review does not? is this something each articles author has the option to include/exclude from the review? While I respect your review I think its important for SR regulars to have the chance to chime in view these surveys to ofeer a second opinion. For example in the case of H&G the SR reviw was 2 stars however the Survey shows far more people felt it fell in the 3, 4 and even 5 star range; a very contrasting take on the movie.


    • Well, my editors usually make the call to include (or not include) a survey with any particular review. Usually, it’s based on whether or not they feel enough people are interested in weighing in to justify putting one together. Now that you mention it, though, I might ask them about just making it policy to include a survey with every review in the future.


  15. Snatch and London are what have made me a Jason Statham fan. Haven’t seen too much of his action stuff other than bits and pieces.

  16. Its a good movie movie but not so good as Jason has already made or acted in previous movies…