Sure, Jason Statham fits the description of author Donald E Westlake’s lead character Parker as the brawny thief from the series of crime thrillers. Like in the books, Parker’s past is shrouded in mystery; he doesn’t even reveal a first name. Those who help Parker are richly rewarded. And as with all Statham movies, he is impassive albeit unerringly decent. But one generally expects more from a book-to-big screen adaptation.
Director Taylor Hackford, who is surprisingly best remembered for his films Ray and An Officer and a Gentleman, delivers a highly predictable screenplay through Parker. The audience is easily a step ahead of the plot.
A typical Statham introduction sets the tone for a heist at the Ohio State Fair revealing his role in a five-member robbery gang. But Parker is not your average thief. His code of ethics means unless compelled to, he will not commit murder. “I don’t steal from people who can’t afford it and I don’t hurt people who don’t deserve it,” he says while holding hostages at gun-point.
Parker also has a girlfriend, Clare (Booth), to go home to. Incidentally, it is her father Hurley (Nolte), also Parker’s mentor, who introduced him to the gang led by Melander (Chiklis). Things go horribly wrong during the heist and the thieves leave Parker for dead. Hurley finds out a tad late and soon the family is on the run. But by now, you begin to wonder if Lopez is a cameo but she eventually does surface, as stressed-out real estate broker Leslie Rodgers.
On the run, Parker takes on a new identity - a Texan called Daniel Parmitt. His decision to secure a safe place for Hurley and Clare leads him to the upscale Palm Beach and commission-desperate Rodgers but what do you know? Melander & Co are in the neighbourhood planning their next big hit. Gang member Hardwicke (Hauptman) gets wind of Parker having survived and puts assassin Kroll (Bernhardt) on the job.
Meanwhile, Rodgers has her own problems to deal with - as a divorced 40 year old strapped for cash, she lives with her nagging mother Ascension (LuPone). Rodgers’ car is on the verge of possession by the bank; her job is yet to strike gold. Not one to forgive a betrayal, Parker plans on eliminating the gang and stealing their loot.
While on business with Parker alias Parmitt, Rodgers thinks he could be the answer to her lonely existence. A history check exposes Parmitt and his fake Texan accent. Rodgers senses a windfall and wants in on the heist - what she brings to the table is her knowledge of the Palm Beach layout.
Now if Lopez was the supposed comic relief to the film in the stereotypical real estate agent suits and blowout, she makes zero impact.
Even for a meddling trouble magnet. Lopez and Statham have no chemistry, making one wonder if it is bad casting or if Lopez if losing the sizzle she brought to the screen with George Clooney in Out of Sight. And it doesn’t help having the camera always behind her.
Standard Statham fare translates into slick stunts, guns and blood - lots of it - without him batting an eyelid. In Parker, he does so in disguises too, including cowboy gear. Save for the occasional one-liners, this film borders between tolerable and easily forgettable.