Jason Statham is not the first person to play the big-screen version of the anti-hero in Donald E. Westlake’s novels: He was previously portrayed by Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall and most recently Mel Gibson in 1999’s Payback. Unfortunately, Statham’s film suffers by comparison to Gibson’s outing because it has pretty much the exact same plot but is told far less coherently.
When Parker joins a team of highly skilled robbers who manage to seal over $1 million dollars from a fairground (?!), he just wants to take his cut and leave. Unfortunately, the other robbers – including The Shield’s Michael Chiklis and The Wire’s Wendell Pierce – want him to reinvest his money into their next big gig, and when he refuses they shoot him, leave him for dead and take his money anyway. Waking up in a hospital, Parker immediately sets about getting his revenge with a complicated plot involving jewellery, an auction and real estate.
Despite almost sharing top billing with Statham, Lopez doesn’t arrive into the movie for a full forty five minutes, and doesn’t actually have anything to do with the plot until well past the hour mark. Her depressed and lonely real-estate agent actually has very little to do except get in the way during shoot-outs, and the same can be said for Parker’s girlfriend (Emma Booth) and his best friend/her dad (Nolte). For a full half-hour in the middle of the movie, it is entirely mystifying at to what anyone is doing or what their motivation is for doing it, as characters shuffle along from one mansion to the next, having pointless conversations about how expensive it is to live in Palm Beach.
The real reason anyone goes to see a Statham movie is to see him kick-ass, and in that regard, he doesn’t disappoint. The fight scenes are visceral and ultra-violent, with every punch, kick, stab and bullet registering with a satisfying amount of blood and sound effects. However, the amount of time he actually spends kicking ass is disappointingly low. In fact, Statham spends more time in a giant white cowboy hat and snake skin boots pretending to be a Texan oil-man of Ecuadorian decent than he does fighting people. And that should tell you everything you need to know about the movie Parker.