Crime Drama Fails to Steal the Box Office
Dead Beat Disaster
Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 23:01
Expectations were high for the premier of Parker. Written by John McLaughlin, who has an impressive resume with blockbuster hits like Black Swan and Hitchcock, and directed by Taylor Hackford, it is the first film based on Donald E. Westlake’s novels that was permitted to use the actual name of the main character, Parker (Jason Statham). McLaughlin took a risk when he decided to tackle the story of the criminal, as since there have been many previous adaptations, particularly John Boorman’s 1967 movie Point Blank.
Parker jumps right into the suspense as the title character attempts to orchestrate the burglary of nearly one million dollars in state fair tickets. Parker’s infamous crime plot is set to unfold at the Ohio State Fair, and he — going incognito as a priest — and four accomplices he met through his girlfriend’s father steal a small fortune. He wants to split the profits and move on, but his partners in crime have grander visions. When Parker verbally removes himself from the gang’s plot to commit the biggest robbery that West Palm Beach has ever encountered, the men retaliate by stealing his share, shooting him and leaving him on the roadside for dead.
Though Parker is a criminal, his character is ethical and loyal. Despite his tendency to come into possession of money that isn’t his, he refuses to steal from people who can’t afford it or hurt people who don’t deserve it. His multi-faceted personality adds another dimension that — while not making the movie too memorable — gives it a much needed boost.
The plot starts to stumble when Parker runs from the mobsters trying to kidnap his girlfriend (Emma Booth) and heads to West Palm Beach to seek revenge on his four former accomplices. This is where he meets Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a real-estate agent living with her overbearing, soap-opera-loving mother. After Leslie joins the plot, it is unclear in which direction McLaughlin and Hackford wanted to take the film, making audiences question if it’s an action film or a melodramatic look into Leslie’s personal struggles.
The movie does not lack its share of action scenes. A warning for the squeamish: There is blood in this movie, and a lot of it. However, Parker ingeniously fights against his foes. He seems to know exactly how to fight his enemies in every situation, which include a hotel bathroom. It is great entertainment, but Parker’s tendency to dominate every battle seems a bit too staged.
The addition of Leslie’s life problems is unnecessary and diverts the plot from its action and crime origins. Regardless, I commend Statham and Lopez, a seemingly questionable duo, as they manage to maintain an effective chemistry throughout the film. Their interactions provide much-needed comic relief that offsets the otherwise vicious, bloody scenes in the film.
The film provides a humane depiction of Parker, but it lacks fluidity. The plot is all over the place, and there are scenes that could easily be inserted in a romantic comedy instead of an action film. Ultimately, McLaughlin’s risk is not worth taking.