Any Parker review has to state first and foremost that as an audience member you have to know going in that despite its pedigree, this is in the end a Jason Statham action movie.
After Crank and Transporter, Statham hopes his next franchise will be Parker. The film version of the Donald Westlake anti-hero's story lands with none other than Oscar-nominated director Taylor Hackford at the helm. Parker also stars Jennifer Lopez, but J. Lo fans don't get too excited... her role is purely supporting.
This is a character that has spawned 24 books and therefore, his pop culture presence is huge. Is Statham an actor to match that expectation? Absolutely yes, as what he does with the character is right in line with what Westlake had in mind with his series. There have been previous cinematic incarnations of his Parker, like Mel Gibson's Payback, but when it comes to the author's vision, the embodiment by Statham is closer to what was intended.
Yet, Parker is not a crime thriller that stands with the very best. It's fun, is pure Statham and features a supporting cast that keenly knows the movie is the action hero's and everyone else is just living in his world. Michael Chiklis and Nick Nolte are the standouts as Parker's less-than-moral fellow crook and paternal figure, respectively. It's just that the sum of the parts don't add up to something more than an average action flick that stumbles upon occasion.
There is one sequence where Statham is required to drop his British accent and pose as a rich Texan and there is just no believing it. We love Statham's work with Snatch and The Italian Job among our favorite movies. There is simply too much that is asked of the audience with Parker to have it reach to viewers beyond his hardcore fans.
What is undebatable about the film, as shown in this Parker trailer, is how the character is firmly in the criminal world, yet has a set of rules that allows the audience to follow his often violent journey. He makes it clear every chance he gets that no one gets hurt who doesn't deserve it and he doesn't rob from people who cannot afford it.
So when his crew turns on him after the beginning-of-the-movie heist, we know that he would rather die than just let this wrong be allowed to go unpunished. Grasping that concept, the audience can follow Statham's motivation through every single scene and it frankly speaks volumes to the actor's talent within this genre. He knows his high points and doesn't stray from it. In this day and age in Hollywood, there is something to be said for that fact.