"Parker" is a 2013 crime drama film adapted from the novel "Flashfire" by Donald Westlake, under the pen name of Richard Stark. The film is directed by Taylor Hackford, and the screenplay was written by John J. McLaughlin. The lead roles are played by Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez. "Parker" is rated R for violence, sexual content, and language.
Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional thief who is asked by his teacher, Hurley (Nick Nolte), to do a job with four other men, including Carlson (Wendell Pierce), Kroll (Daniel Bernhardt), Melander (Michael Chiklis), and Ross (Clifton Collins Jr.). They succeed in the theft, but the other members of Parker's crew shoot him and leave him for dead when he refuses to do another job. He is taken to a hospital and escapes to avoid being apprehended by the police. Parker locates Hurley and tells them that he wants revenge against the Melander for shooting him. Melander discovers that Parker is still alive and orders Kroll to kidnap Parker's girlfriend Claire (Emma Booth), who is also Hurley's daughter.
Claire escapes from her kidnappers and goes into hiding, while Parker continues his plans to take revenge on Melander. Parker locates Melander in Palm Beach and meets Leslie Rogers (Jennifer Lopez), a real estate agent who is experiencing financial difficulty after her divorce. Parker uses Leslie to get information about Melander, who is living in one of Leslie's houses. Melander and his crew are waiting for a jewelry auction, at which they plan to steal $50 million worth of jewels. Leslie discovers Parker's ruse and offers to provide him with complete information on the area in exchange for a commission.
Melander discovers that Parker is in Palm Beach and assigns Kroll the task of killing Parker. Kroll is able to stab Parker before he falls off a balcony and dies. The next day, a detective questions Leslie about Parker when he learns the two were in business together. Leslie sees a video of Kroll falling to his death and returns home to find Claire sewing up Parker's stab wound. Meanwhile, Melander and his crew succeed in stealing the jewels before they are confronted by Parker and Leslie, who eventually kill all the crew members. Parker then takes the jewels and pays Leslie her commission.
Producer Les Alexander obtained the rights to "Flashfire" from Westlake's widow after he died in 2008. "Parker" represents a significant departure for Hackford, who has never directed a film noir before. Film critics have generally praised Statham as a good fit for the role of Parker and have also given Lopez good reviews as the comedic relief for the film. However, they have also criticized the film's predictable ending.
Parker lives by the rule that he always keeps his word, and he expects everyone else to do the same. This character was also played by Mel Gibson in the 1999 thriller Payback, which was based on "The Hunter" by Donald Westlake. Parker is a violent man who has no compunctions about committing crimes to get what he wants. He does protect innocents when the opportunity presents itself, but he is definitely an anti-hero rather than a standard good guy who only kills for righteous reasons. Ultimately, Parker is a simple protagonist who takes direct, effective action to obtain his goals.
The plot in "Parker" has two primary thrusts. The first is the series of action sequences that occupies the first 20 minutes of the film. These scenes are well executed, but they also strain credulity due to Parker's ability to perform superhuman feats. In one scene, he jumps out of a car moving at highway speed without receiving a scratch. The second part of the plot is Parker's revenge, which involves settling the score with his girlfriend's kidnappers and stealing the jewels. This standard revenge plot is well done and doesn't introduce many extraneous issues.
The only significant subplot is the relationship between Parker and Leslie, which exhibits the palpable chemistry between Statham and Lopez. Lopez is considerably more effective as the love interest in "Parker" then she has been in her previous films. Nick Nolte gives an effective performance in the supporting role of Hurley. The pace of this film remains high throughout the film, although it begins to slow a bit during the last 30 minutes. This is primarily due to the introduction of Lopez's character, whose involvement with Parker and his plot for revenge seems highly improbable. Nevertheless, Lopez effectively engages the audience throughout the film.