Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down


13 February 2013 by Nicholas in Films

Parker, starring Jason Statham, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Lopez and Michael Chilkis is probably going to go down in the annals of history as “that Jason Statham movie with Jennifer Lopez pretending to be frumpy.”

Parker is, apparently, a gentleman thief in the pulp tradition from a series of successful novels. It could be the attempt to create a franchise and the film definitely has some star quality in and some reasonable set pieces. But it’s also a Jason Statham film. A good Jason Statham film, but you arguably know exactly what you are going to get before you settle down to watch it.

Statham struggles gamely with a couple of different accents, none of which seem entirely consistent or plausible. He also does his flexing, brooding presence and a surprising number of not quite action scenes. Nolte appears as a grizzled mentor. It’s a role that he’s good at, and he works well against Statham, but he is largely there to propel the plot and provide exposition.

Chilkis is a competing thief, but doesn’t really do menacing particularly. The absence of a great villain hurts the film overall, and although the heists are entertaining, they are hardly spectacular and the film isn’t really carried by them. There is never really excitement or drama created from a sense that things are coming apart for Parker or that anything is beyond his control. And he doesn’t seem to be enough of a control freak or calculating enough to make it entertaining in that sense. I’m left with a sense that the film represents a real missed opportunity.

And casting Jennifer Lopez as a frustrated real estate saleswoman/divorcee is just plain odd. We’re meant to believe that she is trapped in her life and has no potential courters other than a patrol-man  She doesn’t look down at heel or like she would be short of offers. Maybe I am deluded, or maybe my interpretation of her character is wrong, but it really doesn’t work for me.

So, really, Parker is a Jason Statham movie. It isn’t a bad Jason Statham movie, but it isn’t a great one. The things that take it away from being a normal Statham film aren’t strong enough or well enough done and the Statham elements seem to hinder the underlying premise. And Lopez is woefully miscast. And I can’t really tell you what happens in any of the action scenes having seen them, which suggests they lack enough invention or vitality to overcome any of the other problems.