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Parker (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 118 minutes.

Not for children.

When author Donald Westlake wrote his first book about Parker (Jason Statham) in 1962, being a brutal killer, he died at the end of the book. But Westlake's editor saw something in the character and convinced Westlake to spare Parker's life. Good thing, because Parker lived a long life in 24 novels written by Westlake under the pseudonym Richard Stark.

Here, producer/director Taylor Hackford, who won an Oscar® for Ray (2004) picked the right actor to play Parker, even though Parker is described as 6-5, 240 and Statham is only 5-9. The difference between Statham and Tom Cruise who was horribly miscast as 6-5, 240 Jack Reacher, is that Statham looks like a tough guy, studied martial arts (Wing Chun kung fu, karate, and kickboxing), and has established a reputation as an action hero. Consistent therewith, he does most of his own stunts in this film as he has in the past.

In this one, Parker becomes a one man wrecking crew as he wreaks vengeance on a gang of thieves who double crossed him. What he goes through involves such superhuman punishment that it does take something away from the film. It's one thing to do his own stunts, but some of the things he survives and from which he basically just walks away are ridiculous. When he jumped out of a car speeding down a highway, I verbally grunted at the implausibility of it all. Movies really hurt themselves when they have such violent scenes from which heroes emerge virtually unscathed. When people can be stabbed, shot, and jump out of speeding cars and jump up to continue almost as if nothing happened to them, it has the undesirable effect of immunizing viewers to the consequences of violence. As such, this kind of graphic violence is deplorable.

Hackford keeps up the pace admirably well, even though the movie is a half hour too long. Much of the pace is destroyed by the appearance of Jennifer Lopez as a realtor wannabe who gets involved with Parker's quest in a way that strains credulity to the breaking point. I downgraded the film due mainly to the presence of Lopez and how it almost totally destroyed the pace of the film. In one cringe worthy scene she strips down to her underwear. If she was ever considered a sex symbol those days are gone.

Set in Palm Beach, the film has fine cinematography (James Michael Muro) and some stunts that, while ludicrous, are worth seeing. Nick Nolte, who seems to be showing up in almost every movie filmed recently, gives a subdued but effective performance as the father of Parker's girlfriend.

January 24, 2013