The continued fascination with Jason Statham and the inexplicable way in which he evades the front of store bargain bins continues with this tedious revenge flick. Having had underwhelming efforts (in terms of box office and quality) from the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger in the past month, it’s time for the youngest Expendable to adorn the sides of London buses with quotes from lads magazines proclaiming “Statham rocks!”, or “the best action film that I saw today!”.
His latest incarnation is the titular Parker, a criminal for hire who works with a moral code which aims to avoid unnecessary violence. A working practice which contradicts with that of his latest crew, an ensemble of TV vets, featuring signposted wrong-un, Michael Chiklis from The Shield, and The Wire’s, Wendell Pierce, who leave him for dead when he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with their method of splitting the cash. The rusty plot mechanics whir into gear to mean only one thing; payback.
But isn’t J-Lo on the poster? Where does the former block dweller and one-time Out of Sight firecracker come into proceedings? Randomly is the answer. Parker conceives a plot to get near to the backstabbing and front shooting crew by canvassing the area around their latest HQ. Posing as a Texas money man, Leslie Rodgers (Lopez) is the realtor who shows him around the houses, before willingly getting involved with the scam to dig her way out of her own financial troubles. That, my dear readers, is one hell of a synopsis.
Parker actually kicks off pretty impressively. A community barn dance heist, featuring the gang made up as clowns and multicoloured balloons as communication devices is quite inventive, but that’s about where the originality ends from Proof of Life director Hackford, who’s never really had a flair for the momentum of action sequences.
Everything is copy n pasted from not just any number of B-grade action movies, but from Statham’s entire back catalogue. He is in danger of becoming Steven Seagal without the ponytail. One film unrecognisable from the other, and this is frustrating because he can be a very good screen presence, you just have to look at his underrated turn in Snatch as evidence of that.
The inclusion of Jennifer Lopez is something of a mystery. She is fine, if somewhat unremarkable as Parker’s second reel sidekick, but the forced romanticism seems to exist only as a thread for a teaser trailer shot, there is zero chemistry on display, plus the early part of the story has already established that Parker has a “gal” for whom we are meant to believe he is fighting to protect.
Parker is over long, over familiar fare, a shrug of the shoulders of a film which wastes the talents of those involved, so much so that in one scene it’s as if Chiklis is a lifesize, string-pull, talking doll caricature of himself, as he grunts generic bad guy lines towards our dull protagonist. Mr Statham, aside from the rather childish reaction to the line “I always follow through”, this routine is growing very tiresome.