“Parker” tells the tale of a criminal wronged, and out for revenge. He plans a heist of a heist in order to even the score with those who betrayed him. To accomplish his goal, he has to enlist the help of a beautiful real estate agent.
As interesting as it sounds, somehow the recipe doesn’t entirely come together, and “Parker” can’t put together a second half worthy of its first. Ultimately, it winds up your typical, disappointing January release.
Five men successfully rob a State fair, only to succumb to infighting during the getaway. One of the five involved in the heist, Parker (Jason Statham), isn’t part of the same crew as the others. He has a heightened sense of honor for a crook; he only steals from people who can afford it, and doesn’t hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it. So when things go wrong during the heist, he finds himself at odds with the rest of the crew. When that leads him to decline an invitation to join them on the next job, violence breaks out. The leader of the other four (Michael Chiklis) isn’t keen on losing 1/5th of the score… he wants to reinvest the entire take into the next job. So, when Parker balks, he needs to be taken care of.
Unfortunately for them, their attempt to kill him fails. Parker is left shot and bleeding in a ditch, but he is found quickly and rushed to a hospital. When he awakens, he immediately sets out to earn his revenge. After checking in with his partner (Nick Nolte), Parker begins the arduous and violent process of tracking down the gang that turned on him.
His efforts lead him to Palm Beach, where he needs some assistance in figuring out where they’re holed up, and what they might be after. Enter Leslie Rogers (Jennifer Lopez), a down on her luck real estate agent who’s suffering financially due to the real estate downturn. Posing as a billionaire out to buy a home, Parker gets her to take him around the exclusive community. As she does, he’s scouting for the crew and trying to suss out their next score.
Unfortunately, that’s where “Parker” completely puts on the brakes. Until that point in the film (say, about midway), “Parker” had been a violent, well paced mob-vengeance movie, along the lines of Mel Gibson’s “Payback”. Once Jennifer Lopez enters the picture, though, everything completely slows. Not that I’m blaming her, she does a fine job with what she’s given, but her character is a regrettable inclusion. She becomes almost a second lead, as we get insight into her back story, her home life, her job, her love life… and it’s all almost completely unwelcome. The film would have been much, much better served sticking with Parker, and finding him a way to catch up with the crew he’s tracking in a much straighter line.
Because the heists and mob violence of “Parker” aren’t anywhere near well done enough to compensate for the movie’s disappointments and quicksand of a second act. The first heist is well done enough, and Parker’s initial pursuit of the gang is right out of the “what the audience wants” playbook, but the climactic heist is relatively laughable, and the final confrontation between Parker, Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, et al. is a downright let down.
I’m disappointed to report that while “Parker” starts strong, it takes a flat our rest stop in the middle of the film and then limps across the finish line. It’s not a painful film by any means, but it certainly doesn’t belong in the ranks of the best in the slick, mob revenge movies sub genre, either.