The late Donald E. Westlake’s literary character Parker has been brought to the big screen a handful of times over the past 50 years, but often under a different name (Walker in Point Blank, Porter in Payback, etc.). Jason Statham keeps the Parker name in his film, which portrays the titular anti-hero as an honorable thief who doesn’t steal from the underprivileged and refuses to harm the innocent.
‘The Stath’ gets to don a couple of silly costumes in the trailer for Parker, including a disguise as a grey-haired priest and a Texan playboy with a ten-gallon hat. Rest assured, though, he also does all the macho posturing and butt-kicking (including smashing a man’s face with a toilet tank lid) one would expect from a film featuring the Transporter and Expendables star.
Parker sees its namesake doubled-crossed and left for dead by his crew after a lucrative job, with the duplicitous Melander (The Shield‘s Michael Chiklis) leading the charge. Stath tracks his ex-partners down to Palm Beach, where he finds out they’re planning the heist of a lifetime. However, in order to hijack the score and take sweet revenge, Parker ends up having to join forces with a ‘savvy’ – and, of course, sexy – insider named Leslie (Jennifer Lopez).
Once the trailer is through outlining that plot, we get the expected sizzle reel of rapid-fire action clips, including Stath knocking out baddies with whatever’s handy (be it a bar stool or the aforementioned toilet lid) and making out with J-Lo in the shower. Needless to say: Parker looks to bide by the rules of the Jason Statham formula at every turn.
Screenwriting duties on Parker were handled by John J. McLaughlin (Man of the House, Black Swan), with Oscar-winner Taylor Hackford (The Devil’s Advocate, Ray) taking directorial duties. The film trades in the grainy, digital, texture of The Expendables 2, in favor of a cleaner look that befits the old-fashioned pulpy caper tale. Moreover, the narrative doesn’t appear to be quite so preposterous as that for Stath’s last solo vehicle, Safe.
Then again, Parker also seems to be lacking the thrill-ride momentum that the best Stath flicks tend to have. Maybe the chemistry between Stath and Lopez will prove to be more volatile than teased in the trailer – or Stath and Chiklis will share the screen more often – but otherwise, this doesn’t appear to be an especially-memorable addition to the actor’s resume.
Parker opens in U.S. theaters on January 25th, 2013.