If there’s only time to see one movie to see this weekend, then it’s Parker. Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez work hand-in-glove, and Michael Chiklis is chilling as heartless super crook Melander. The story is tight, the action riveting, and the performances much better than necessary to pull the whole thing off. The result is a crime thriller that manages to be a good movie as well. Well worth the money. Rated R-ighteous.
Criminal mastermind Parker (Statham) is a good guy in a bad guy’s line of work. In his own words, “I don’t steal from people who can’t afford it, and I don’t hurt people that don’t deserve it.” When he’s recommended by his girlfriend’s dad (Nick Nolte) to help a four-man crew with a one-time heist, Parker keeps his end of the bargain and they make out with one million dollars in cash. However, the mob-connected crew, led by Chiklis, has other ideas when it comes to splitting the cash as agreed – namely killing Parker so they can save his cut for their next big job. There’s only one problem. Parker doesn’t die. With a mob hitman on his heels and a thirst for retribution, Parker tracks Melander and his crew to Palm Beach, leaving an ample body count in his wake. As the crew prepares to carry out a record jewel heist, Parker makes plans to rob them once they do. To pull it off, he’ll need some help, courtesy of Jennifer Lopez.
By far Parker‘s biggest strength is its believability. It’s not one of those action movies with a bunch of stray bullets flying around and nobody getting hurt. It’s 118 minutes of unadulterated, kill-or-be killed, good old-fashioned American badassery. In the first scene, Parker, dressed as a priest, helps Melander’s crew knock over a county fair by commandeering the police-armed finance office. The well-choreographed heist lets us know we’re dealing with killer criminals, and the action only gets more intense from there. From the ensuing highway firefight as Melander’s crew tries to kill Parker in the getaway car, to the intense (and very bloody) scene when the mob hitman finally catches up to Parker, to the taut final confrontation, director Taylor Hackford nails every detail from sweat to swearing, and the tension runs high from beginning to end.
The performances in Parker are just as good as the action, with Jason Statham adding a dose of indignation to his trademark cool and Michael Chiklis showing a dark side as an utterly convincing antagonist. Jennifer Lopez enlivens the film as Leslie, an aspiring real estate agent who teams up with Parker to escape the confines of her social station. Nick Nolte hits hard as a career criminal who’s somewhat of a father figure to Parker, and Patti LuPone is wildly entertaining as Leslie’s overbearing, soap-opera addicted mother. Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins, Jr., Daniel Bernhardt, and Bobby Cannavale all give expert performances, and even the minor characters and background do their part.
Beyond the action and performances, the film has style, and the script delivers ample moments of drama and comic relief. From the posh backdrop of Palm Beach, to quippy exchanges between Parker and Leslie, to dramatic subplots and even some social criticism, this film doesn’t just rely on the tricks of the trade. Viewers will be entertained on many levels.
Incredibly entertaining and razor-sharp, the film goes over and above what’s typical of the genre. Parker is a hell of a ride. Viewers, buckle up.