Director: Taylor Hackford
Cast: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Wendell Pierce, Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins Jr.
Running time: 118 minutes
A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew’s latest heist.
The Stath’s at it again. His latest butt-kicking adventure has come relatively under the radar, being unusually preceded with very little advertisement. Of course, there are only so many things you can expect from a Jason Statham movie, but having not seen any trailers, read any reviews or even scanned a synopsis, I didn’t really have an idea what I was getting into.
Proceedings begin fairly promisingly. The opening sequence takes us to a carnival where a bunch of conspicuous men, Statham included, are obviously up to no good, but we don’t quite know what’s going to happen. As the tension builds and we try to guess who’s good and who’s bad, we really start to think this could be something to write home about; but then it all kicks off, and it’s when people start speaking that almost all hope is lost. I’m struggling to remember when I’ve witnessed such an abundance of bad acting in the same film. Some of the performances in the minor roles are that bad I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they just grabbed people off the street to play them. But even some of those in the bigger roles are embarrassing. The main bad guys of the piece, a team of four thieves, are just indescribably rubbish. Every line they utter is hammy and overacted, and they all look like they know they’re on camera. Their leader, actor Michael Chiklis (whose name I recognize but whose work I’m unfamiliar with) is probably the worst of the lot, spouting his dumb dialogue with the most ridiculous expressions. Even Wendell Pierce, who’s proven his acting chops in great things like Ray and TV’s The Wire, is just rubbish.
Still, not all of the blame can go to the acting. The writer, John McLaughlin, deserves it in equal measure. It’s surprising that the man who penned something as clever as Black Swan could also write something as dumb as this. It may be an adaptation of a book, but that’s no excuse for having such terrible, cheesy dialogue and such a boring, clichéd plot. As proof of just how unremarkable the plot is, I regularly drifted in and out of scenes due to boredom, yet it made not one jot of difference to my understanding of it by the end. Yes, you can actually switch off for half of the movie and still know what’s going on.
If there’s any room for compliments, it’s comes in the form of Statham, who’s always fun to watch and is pretty much the reason people will see the film (although I can’t for the life of me figure out his accent), and possibly to Lopez, who’s just gentle on the eyes. They make it just about watchable. There are also a few jokes that do raise a titter or two, but even within that there lies a bit of a problem. The film doesn’t really know what it wants to be. It’s sort of stuck between serious action thriller and comedy crime caper, and consequently fails at being either.
It’s ridiculously violent, as most Statham movies are, but that generally doesn’t bother me. In the case of Parker, though, the violence does begin to bother me because it’s so needless. As the film wears on, the violence becomes more and more graphic and gratuitous, presumably because the director and studio know that the longer the film wears on, the more bored the audience is going to be, so they need to stick in something that will shock us awake.
Perhaps the biggest problem of all is that it’s just TOO LONG. Far too long. It’s boring thirty minutes in and this thing goes on for two hours. There was actually a point where I was depressing myself with the thought that Lopez hasn’t even shown up so it can’t be anywhere near the end. And even when you think it has ended, it slaps on another two really poorly thought out and wanting scenes that last maybe a couple of minutes, but feel like another ten. It’s just too un-involving and ordinary to deserve this much of your time.
I actually feel bad for being so down on this because I like Jason Statham, but he really hasn’t given me much to sing about with this one. The last thing we’re left with is a really terrible moral which teaches us that it’s okay to steal huge amounts of money if you’re not particularly well off. You don’t have to lose your house or be in a bad job, you just have to give back your leased car to justify stealing millions of dollars. It’s silly, shallow, generic and boring. Don’t waste your time.