Parker was a much better concept for a film before Jack Reacher underperformed at the box office — both films are adaptations of popular novels made into generic action movies that serve primarily as vanity pieces for their lead actors. However, instead of megastar Tom Cruise playing the lead role, Parker stars Jason Statham, perhaps the most reliable and most typecast action hero currently working in Hollywood. Audiences know pretty much exactly what they’re getting into when they see a Statham-led production. Nothing else — not the director, the script or the rest of the cast — seems to matter when he’s playing the part of the protagonist.
Parker, which was adapted from the novel Flashfire, is the same type of generic action movie that has made up the vast majority of Statham’s career. He plays Parker, a professional thief who likes to think of himself as a modern day Robin Hood — he doesn’t steal from poor people and he doesn’t kill the innocent. This philosophy ends up working against him though, as he is betrayed by a group of criminals shortly after the film’s first heist scene. This group is led by a man named Melander (Michael Chiklis), and Parker spends the rest of the movie planning and executing his revenge. It is worth noting that Chiklis is the only actor in the movie seemingly having any fun.
The planning makes up the majority of the movie — Parker is left for dead after he is betrayed and has to work himself back into a position where he can carry out his vengeance. Because of this, it takes Parker an agonizing hour to get to Palm Beach, which is where the other criminals are hiding out. It’s here that he meets Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a real estate agent who lives with her mother. Leslie’s entire purpose is providing the audience with unnecessary exposition and becoming a helpless victim. She doesn’t even work as a love interest because Parker has a girlfriend (Emma Booth), leaving her character with very little to do.
The build-up towards the climax takes far too long, and the audience’s suspension of disbelief is lost when an action-thriller like this one is done at such a leisurely pace. Not much happens during the first hour — Parker just steals a lot of cars, gets a fake ID and tries to find out where the other thieves are. There was no reason for Parker to be longer than 90 minutes, yet the movie clocks in at two hours. Tighter editing would have ensured that the audience stayed engaged, that the action scenes didn’t feel too far apart and that the clunky exposition would be kept to a minimum. None of that happens here.
There is some action, but it’s not as prevalent as one would expect from a Statham film. Yet despite this, it’s more violent than many of his previous efforts — Parker winds up covered in copious amounts of blood at the end of nearly every fight. Three action scenes spread out over two hours is not enough to sustain the film. It doesn’t help that the action is incredibly unrealistic, with people in fights acting like unflinching, unstoppable robots.
If you are in the mood for a generic, by-the-numbers action film, Parker may be what you are looking for. But for anyone looking for a film that is more engaging than the normal fare, there is nothing here worth seeing.