It’s above-average because of its fascinating cast.
“Parker” will come as no surprise to fans of Jason Statham’s other R-rated actioners. It’s the assemblage of this ensemble piece that’s a pleasant surprise.
Based on the novel “Flashfire” by the late, great Donald E. Westlake (who wrote it under the pen name “Richard Stark”) and dedicated to Westlake at the end, this is the story of Parker, a criminal who has a set of ethics all his own, based on fairness and compassion. (Incidentally, if the title character seems familiar, Mel Gibson played a similar kind of guy known as “Porter” in his movie “Payback,” which is based on another Stark novel, “The Hunter.”)
This is a heist/revenge movie, and the heist, which comes at the beginning, is pretty cool. Five men, including Parker and team members Melander (Michael Chiklis, not far from his role in television’s “The Shield”) and Ross (Clifton Collins Jr., “Sunshine Cleaning”), decide to rob the Ohio State Fair.
Parker leads the way in a complex but successful caper. Problem is, when the team is driving away from the scene, the other four turn on Parker and leave him for dead. After he is rescued by a farm family, Parker awakens in a hospital from which he makes a “hide in plain sight” escape. He gets some help from an old friend (Nick Nolte) and his girlfriend Claire (Emma Booth) and begins to plot his revenge in Palm Beach, where the other four are planning another crime.
He ends up being connected to a desperate real estate agent (Jennifer Lopez), who complicates matters for him when she begins to realize he’s not who he claims to be.
Statham is in terrific fighting shape and delivers all the action you can expect, ending up a bloody mess after the struggle much of the time.
What’s fun is to watch the character actors around him because they all turn in good performances. It’s surprising and fun to see “Evita” herself, the incredible singer/actress Patti Lupone, as Lopez’s mother. She lends authenticity and class to her character, one of the most enjoyable parts of the film.
You might not remember “Parker” for a long time, but you’ll have a decent time while you’re watching this troupe at work.