Action Movie Friday: Parker

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: Parker
MPAA Rating: R
Release: 2013
Genre: action, crime
Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Emma Booth, Michael Chiklis, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Nolte
Director: Taylor Hackford
Writer: John J. McLaughlin, Donald Westlake
Distributor: Film District
Budget: $35 Million
Box Office: $48 Million

see, it’s only through the still here that you can tell that the girl in the shower is not Jennifer Lopez…. seriously folks what is this trailer? Introduce your character in the first five minutes of the film, not through your trailer. Yeesh.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 41%

Gingersnaps Rating: One and a half cookies!

Summary:

Parker is a thief with a code. However, his code can’t protect him when others don’t share it. After a big score, the team Parker was with betrays him, shoots him and leaves him for dead. Now, Parker is out for revenge and to get his share of the take back. He tracks them to Palm Beach, Florida where they’re setting up for their next big heist. Parker thinks he’s got it all under control. Except he didn’t plan on Leslie Rodgers, the real estate agent he used to track down the team, to figure out that he’s not who he says he is. Now, he’s had to cut her in and figure out what the team is doing before the big heist goes down.

Review:

Parker is based on a character created by Donald Westlake. There have been about five movies made with the character Parker, but this one is the only one using the actual name. Parker was created back in 1962 and ran until 2008. It shows. This movie is based upon the novel Flashfire (which is a break from movies being made on the first book in any series, in this case, The Hunter.) Flashfire was published in 2000. Supposedly the Parker character has millions of fans, 24 books seems to agree with the idea that the character Parker does have fans. I haven’t read any Parker novels. So, I can’t really attest to the quality of the writing or the accuracy of Jason Statham’s portrayal.

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers and see how fans versus box office draw worked out. Parker had a budget of $35 million and made only $17 Million of it’s box off in the states. It sold about $10 Million in Blue Ray and DVD sales for as long as the Numbers kept track. This is abysmal, in fact, this is considered a flop. I wouldn’t expect to see a sequel anytime soon. (In fact, I would hope they’d stop making movies on this character.) There’s a reason for the low numbers.

Parker is your typical male revenge fantasy. Our male hero is betrayed, left for dead and now he must rise up and take revenge against those that wronged him. The only thing that sets our hero apart from our antagonists is that he has a code. We’re supposed to root for him because he has this code. In fact, this code is supposed to make Parker likeable.

Look, I don’t really care about predictable plots. As long as they are interesting, entertaining and bring something new to the table. This movie fails on all three counts. The plot isn’t interesting, it isn’t entertaining and brings absolutely nothing new to the table. In fact, what could have been interesting was utterly ignored for the entire revenge fantasy schtick. You see the thing about having a code when you’re a thief or a criminal, there has to be some sort of redeeming quality to what you’re doing. Parker hasn’t any redeeming qualities according to this movie. He steals because stealing is his income. He’s not helping others. He’s not doing it to ‘stick it to the man.’ It is, in essence, his job. The fact he doesn’t hurt anyone or take it from people who can’t afford it (I don’t know how he is qualified to be the judge of that) doesn’t really make him any better than any other thief. So, we see a pretty meticulous heist being pulled off in the first ten minutes and then the rest of the movie is Jason Statham brutally beating up everyone else. So much for not hurting people. (Sigh.)

Otherwise, the plot was easy to follow and the dialogue wasn’t painful. It didn’t make me laugh, but at least it didn’t make me cringe. So, I’m going to eat half a cookie.

There was an explosion in this movie. It wasn’t an unnecessary explosion, it was a “well, this plan wasn’t thought through very well, oh my god you’re joking… cringe” explosion. No cookie.

This is a Jason Statham movie, there were plenty of fights. Because if there is one thing that Jason Statham does well, it’s a fight scene. I’ve noticed though with about half of Jason Statham’s movies, the fights aren’t entertaining, they are brutal. As in, before the movie is over, Jason really shouldn’t be standing up straight, much less throwing a punch. There is a fine line between entertaining, brutal and this guy should be dead. We’ve walked into ‘this guy should be dead’ territory. It is possible to have an entertaining but brutal fight. See the Expendables! These fights were well scripted but not really highly entertaining. Half a cookie.

If you want to believe the trailers and the back of the DVD box, Jason and Leslie Rodgers spend half the movie throwing sultry looks at each other and making out. Somewhere in the line of marketing, they decided to hype up this Jennifer Lopez character to sell the movie. Then when you get to the movie you find out that Parker has a girlfriend Claire (who if he wanted to respect Claire like the behind the scenes people claimed, then he should not have kissed Leslie). Neither Leslie nor Claire add anything to the movie. They are characters that could and should have been cut. Claire is the typical girlfriend. She exists to stitch up Parker’s wounds and be threatened by the mob. Leslie is useless. Her story about being down on her luck and being stalked by the sleazy cop (never resolved) wasn’t needed in the story. Parker doesn’t need her. He needs the list of houses sold in the last two months which are a matter of public record. She doesn’t give him any information he couldn’t find in a newspaper. This auction was surely a highly publicized event. And then, in the final scene, she is the amateur that gets caught and almost gets both of them killed. Sitting there and watching this entire thing was incredibly frustrating. No cookie, I’m eating it.

Parker should be dead. Okay. This guy should be dead. I have to draw a line somewhere on belief. And here is my line, Parker should be dead. When you hit that point where he can barely walk, then I am drawn out of the story to go, well, that should have ended there. Then, let’s discuss the jewel heist plot. Someone didn’t think this one through well enough. It’s all well and good to buy a house to lay low in and to steal a firetruck, but someone should have gone “it would take this much time for the real fire company to get there and someone is going to notice if we’re earlier than they are.” Everything felt a little too easy. In fact, both for the bad guys and for our hero. Our hero finds are bad guys too easily. The bad guys find our hero too easily. But hey, once the girlfriend runs off to the lake, no one can find her! Despite the fact that Parker goes to visit her. Parker himself felt like a ghost, given how many cars he stole and no law enforcement was on his tail. Consistency people, consistency. Because if the bad guys can find him that easily, then the good guys should be able to find him just as easily. Since gravity worked properly and guns ran out of ammo and propane tanks exploded properly, I’ll only take half a cookie.

Parker was filled with unlikeable characters brutally beating up on each other where no one seemed to be able to die or hide from each other. It barely succeeded as an action movie. The movie lacked consistency and seemed stuck on a plot line from the 1960s. It didn’t bring anything new to the table and the female characters might as well have been nameless extras. This movie left me feeling frustrated and a bit disgusted. I had to go put in Leverage which also has a character named Parker, and fulfils the brief of criminals with a code much better and have important female characters who are integral parts of the jobs to boot. Parker didn’t come as advertised and was an utter disappointment. One and a half gingersnaps.

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