by Jeff Beck, Guest Film Critic
Statham Mostly Same Action Style for "Parker"

Oh Jason Statham, will you ever stop making the same movie over and over again? After “Safe,” “The Mechanic,” two “Expendables” films (plus one upcoming), three “Transporter” films, “Killer Elite,” and more, you would think that he would tire of playing the same flat, one-note character, but apparently he has become quite comfortable with it. So now we come to “Parker,” his latest film, and if you’ve seen any of the above, then you know exactly what to expect right down to the letter.

This time around, Statham plays a character named Parker who is hired to help pull off a heist at a fair worth one million dollars. The heist is successful, but immediately afterward, the other four guys who helped pull it off want to put all the money toward scoring an even bigger take. Parker declines the offer, which makes them none too happy. This leads them to attempt to kill him, which they think they do after he jumps out of the car and gets shot. However, as Parker’s luck would have it, some good Samaritans happen to pass by and rush him to a hospital.

As you can probably guess, he wants a little revenge for what happened to him, and so begins his quest to track down his former partners. This leads him to Palm Beach, Florida, where the guys are planning to follow through on a large jewelry heist that will get them millions of dollars each. Instead of just taking his revenge right away, Parker decides to do one better. Not only will he take his revenge, but he’ll also let them accomplish the theft first, leaving him with all of the loot. However, as you can also probably guess, this plan comes with complications.

As this is a Statham film, you know to expect a multitude of fight scenes (featuring fists and/or guns) and the usual plot of Statham chasing after someone he wants to kill or being chased by someone who wants to kill him. You can also expect the usual grunted dialogue and bad acting that he delivers. This film isn’t without some amusement though. For a few scenes, he puts on a ridiculous Texan accent in an attempt to fit into a forged identity.

Like with his other films, there are some very strange plot points that will leave you scratching your head. For instance, there is one scene where a knife-wielding assassin attempts to kill him, and nearly does, but the way that Parker uses to get out of it is to stab his own hand on the blade. You would think that a normal person would just use their hand in an attempt to hold off the attacker’s hand, but let’s face it, when have Statham’s characters ever been normal?

We can also look at another silly instance that occurs later in the film. During the big jewelry heist, as the thieves are stealing the goods, it’s rather funny to discover that the jewels are being kept behind regular glass. If you had jewelry worth millions of dollars that was going to be displayed to the public, would you put it behind regular glass that anyone could break? I didn’t think so.

From reading this, you might mistakenly think that there are no other characters in the film, but unfortunately there are. The only other one who gets a decent amount of screentime is a real estate agent, Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), that ends up teaming up with Parker. It doesn’t take too long to realize that the only purpose her character serves is as a hostage that the bad guys can threaten Parker with. What’s particularly strange is that the film already had a character who could have served that purpose, making the inclusion of Leslie all the more pointless.

While “Parker” ends up being a rather bland film, what hurts it even more is the fact that it runs for nearly two hours. Statham’s butt-kicking escapades usually only barely cover 90 minutes, so stretching it out another 30 minutes is not going to do it any favors. You begin to feel those two hours stretching out from very early on as the filmmakers fill it with several unnecessary scenes that could have been cut to make it much tighter and to lessen the meandering.

It’s rather surprising to see that this film come from Taylor Hackford, two-time Oscar nominee for “Ray.” He has shown that he has pretty good skill in the past, which makes me wonder why he would want to tackle something as generic as a Jason Statham beat-em-up film. Surely he can’t be that hard up for directing gigs, though by the looks of his filmography, he hasn’t been doing very much lately, so he just might be.

I wonder if Statham will ever go back to making decent films like “Snatch” and “The Bank Job” again. There was even a lot of fun to be had with the fast-paced thrills of the “Crank” films. Let’s look at his upcoming filmography. He’s going to be playing a character that tangles with a local druglord, one that’s an ex-Special Forces soldier, and one that provides protection to his friends. Then, of course, there’s “The Expendables 3.” Sigh. 2/4 stars.   //