Last played by Mel Gibson in the film Payback, Parker’s name was changed to Porter, is back on the bring screen with Jason Statham taking on the popular Parker character from the novels by Donald E. Westlake. As if Statham wasn’t enough to bring this cool character to life, he’s bringing an interesting cast along with him including Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins Jr., Wendell Pierce, Bobby Cannavale and Nick Nolte, but is enough to make the film work?
Parker follows a a thief who lives by the code that you do not steal from those who can’t afford it or hurt people who don’t deserve it, but clearly his crew doesn’t share the same code and steals his stash and leave him for dead. Parker returns taking an unlikely partner and devising a plan to hijack the score of his old crew, take them down, and get away clean. Payback was such an awesome movie with Gibson delivering a great performance really making you root for a bad guy. Here Statham adds a bit more likeability to the character and he just doesn’t deliver the same effect. While this was a bit of a disappointment, Statham is also the only reason this movie works for all because for the most part he is running around through crap. Jennifer Lopez is not only horrible in the film, her character really offers little to the story. The usually fun to watch Chiklis, Collins, and Pierce failed to offer much more. They did ok with what action they had, which isn’t much, but their dialogue felt forced and unnatural throughout. The story was simple enough but had numerous useless moments that caused it to drag a bit. There is an entire sub-plot that seems to be leading somewhere and then is suddenly dropped and forgotten. What little action there is here works well enough thanks to Statham’s ability to deliver, but it’s just not enough to save the overall product.
While Statham is usually a sure bet for a fun action film Parker is just a far cry from his previous entries. You may not get the full on action you might hope for, he still delivers in the way that makes him so cool to make this way better than it deserved to be. If you’re a fan of Westlake’s character then it’s not a complete waste of time but you would probably be better to go back to watch Payback instead.