Review: PARKER (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 28 January 2013

Review: PARKER (2013)


Terribly clunky and painfully routine, Taylor Hackford's big screen adaptation of the late novelist's Donald E. Westlake's PARKER (who died in 2008) is nothing more than your typical, undemanding Jason Statham-centric crime thriller.

The movie opens quite promisingly with Parker (Jason Statham), who is put in charge by veteran thief Hurley (Nick Nolte) to lead a crew of four: Melander (Michael Chiklis), Ross (Clifton Collins Jr.), Hardwicke (Micah Hauptman), and Carlson (Wendell Pierce) -- for a big heist at the Ohio State Fair. The heist is successful, and they manage to get away with more than $1 million in cash. However, things get out of hand when Parker respectfully refuses Melander's offer to invest their take in an upcoming diamond heist that would net them a bigger payday. A violent shootout ensues, and Parker ends up being shot and left for dead. Fortunately, Parker is lucky enough to be alive after he is rescued by two kind strangers. After Parker is slowly recovered from his bullet wounds, he's determined for payback time against Melander and his gang. With the help of Hurley and Hurley's daughter Claire (Emma Booth), Parker subsequently discovers that the gang's next heist will take place in West Palm Beach, Florida.

In order to carry out his revenge plan smoothly, he travels there and disguise as a wealthy Texan seeking to purchase a new home. There, he gets to know a struggling real-estate agent named Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez), who gradually learns the truth behind Parker's motivation and demands to get a fair cut from him as well.

On the surface, putting a respectable Hollywood veteran like Taylor Hackford and BLACK SWAN screenwriter John J. McLaughlin on a task to adapt one of Westlake's most famous characters, one might easily assume that PARKER is going to be a great hard-boiled crime thriller. Unfortunately it's a big surprise that the movie turns out to be a ho-hum experience. McLaughlin's adapted screenplay is bloated with too many excess baggage, particularly in the long-winded middle section involving Jennifer Lopez's character. Problem is, the casting of Jennifer Lopez is the main reason why the movie drags a lot. It's also pity to see Lopez nowadays isn't a worthwhile actress she used to be, as she comes across more of a window-dressing part than a necessary character (how else would you explain that she is mostly showcased as a sex object where the camera simply loves to focus on her butt than her acting talent?). Another problem is Hackford's uneven direction. After a promising start, he quickly loses steam midway with his erratic pacing and barely recovers ever since. It's also a shame that most of the supposedly first-rate cast (notably Nick Nolte and Michael Chiklis) are neglected to strict caricatures.

Despite most of its glaring flaws, PARKER remains a fairly decent time-waster. Jason Statham is suitably cast as a no-nonsense criminal vows to seek vengeance. While his character as Parker is more of the same cool-mannered role we used to see him from other movies, he's always entertaining enough to watch for especially when comes to action sequence. Speaking of action, this is where the movie often comes alive (even though they are not barely enough to justify this as a satisfying whole). Earlier in the movie, an ugly shootout inside the moving fan is truly an exhilarating set-piece. Some of the brutally realistic fight scenes are well-choreographed as well, even though there are times the editing tends to get too frenetic until it's hard to distinguish what is really going on.

No comments: