Richard Stark's Parker has already been the source of inspiration for several movies, but this is the first one that actually gets to use the name. One would presume that this version of the character would hew closer to the source, and attempt to deliver the same nebulous morality and grit that the novels were known for. Unfortunately, one would be wrong. Parker is a chintzy little movie that feels like the worst of cable TV shows. It is, by far, the worst adaptation of Stark's stories to date.
Professional thief Parker (Jason Statham) leads a small crew on a heist to steal a million dollars from the Ohio State Fair. The caper is successful, but his partners decide to double-cross him, wanting his share of the take to fund an even bigger heist. They shoot him, but he manages to survive. Parker makes his way to Palm Beach, Florida, where the crew is planning to steal millions of dollars worth of jewelry. Parker, with the help of a down-on-her-luck real estate agent (Jennifer Lopez), intends to get his revenge.
What plays out is painfully banal. The movie runs at a stupefying two hours, with so little of the time dedicated to advancing the plot or providing flavor. Instead, time is squandered on an extraneous character that the movie contrives into relevance. Leslie, played by Jennifer Lopez, could be easily cut out of the movie without really affecting the general point of the narrative. But the movie lingers in her scenes, presumably for a sense of comedic relief. But they're all more tedious than funny.
And had those scenes been excised, the movie would still be pretty dire. Apart from a couple of brutal fight scenes, the movie struggles to put up anything of interest on screen. The filmmaking leaves much to be desired, the movie often looking cheap and confused. There's a shortage of tension throughout the movie, almost every scene lacking a sense of actual danger. The movie is too convinced of its own coolness, and it slogs along without providing any stakes to care about.
Jason Statham is an odd choice to play the title character. Looking past the fact that he's from the wrong country, Statham charms lie elsewhere. The role seems to have called for something a tad darker, and a tad colder. Statham is inclined to play tough guys who hide a soft heart, and that's what goes wrong here. Jennifer Lopez is all right, but she's saddled with a completely unnecessary role. The supporting cast is populated with great character actors who don't get to do a whole lot.
Even taken apart from its lofty legacy, Parker is a pretty terrible movie. All it can really offer is heavy, sometimes brutal violence, and even that is blunted by a couple of choice cuts. The film just doesn't seem inclined to bring something new to the table, starting instead from hoary clichés of action films past, never really considering what the character or the setting might bring to the table. What's left looks and feels like a really weak episode of Burn Notice. You don't need to go to the cinema for that.