action movie freak    
Parker movie poster


"It's not about money."

(25 Jan 2013) Crime/Thriller*

Director Taylor Hackford
Writer John J. McLaughlin
Second Unit Directors David Leitch, Raymond Prado
Stunt Coordinators Mike Massa, Brad Martin (re-shoots)
Jason Statham's Stunt Double James Embree

*So, Parker was not categorized as "Action" by IMDB, but you be the judge. [They later revised that to Action/Crime/Thriller.]


Flashfire novel cover art of lady sitting in a chair with legs crossed, reaching under a table to get a gun that's taped to the undersideWith a script written by John J. McLaughlin (seen here in this interview by Grace Randolph), Parker is based on the novel Flashfire by author Donald E. Westlake (under the pseudonym "Richard Stark"). The character of Parker was also in Payback starring Mel Gibson. (You remember the trailer overkill: "Give me back my son!")

According to Grace's interview, when Westlake was writing the script, he did not know it was for Jason Statham. It's perfectly suited to him, however, because it follows the line of the Transporter movies, where there are rules.  They jump into what the rules are in the opening heist where Parker talks a panicked security guard back down to calmness.  "I'm no better than you, you're no better than me."  "I don't steal from people who can't afford it, and I don't hurt people who don't deserve it." It lays out his philosophy/who he is, so you understand what drives him. This is important because when he is crossed, you know that he cannot let that stand. They made a deal with Parker and then they try to change it. Someone should have told them up front "The deal is the deal."

Jennifer Lopez holding Jason Statham's face in her hands in Parker movieNO ONE LIKES CHAOS
The big surprise in this movie is how perfect Jennifer Lopez is.  There seems to be a tendency in movies that these kind of parts are overdone (especially for attractive women—they make them too 'silly'). I don't know why that seems the norm, but in this movie, it's just exactly as it should be. No more, no less. It's believable, not a caricature, and that's why it works. Her monologue lets us into her psyche and the two, Parker and Jennifer's character Leslie Rogers, find a common ground. The monologue is really a sad comment on our materialistic world, and the role of real estate agents. Leslie Rogers knows the rules of Palm Beach and offers to help Statham navigate and avoid notice. She brings a little order to the chaos of his 'revenge'.  I wouldn't say this is a Revenge Action Movie, because it's more about the Heist.  The second big heist is the driving force behind what happens to Parker, and the point of interest in the major chunk of what he does next.  Also, the movie plays on the popularity of getting away with it.  Like Shawshank Redemption and so many others, we want them to succeed and to keep the money.

Parker explains "Civilized people need to follow rules. I just need to put things right."  You don't cross Parker. An Action Movie Essential, the Hero has to be on the 'Right' Side. He can still be a criminal, but we have to empathize and identify with his cause or take on things so we root for him to win. The killer chasing Parker has been shown to be stealthy, uses a knife, and is vicious, so that when he jumps Parker, you go from 0 to 100 like POW! The fight scene between Jason Statham and Daniel Bernhardt is really intense and not 'pretty'. It begins with a stab to Parker's chest that was meant for his heart (We've previously seen Bernhardt's character Kroll stab another man in the heart with a really long blade, so Parker's at a disadvantage and lucky to be alive from the first second.)  The fight's intensity level is so high that Parker has to *SPOILER* impale his hand to stop from being killed by the knife. It's not the only intense fight scene. Parker, at one point, shoves a bloody clip into his gun. Even the SNAFU interaction in the getaway van after the first heist is harsh. Kudos to Statham's stunt double James Embree for the roll in the street. That looked painful.  [Here's Statham making that jump (from IMDB).]

Jason Statham practicing jumping out of the van in Parker

With Parker, it's not just about the fact that they tried to kill him. As he puts it "When I enter into an agreement both sides have to be honored." He did his part and then they tried to not pay him. They tried to change the deal. That's when the chaos started. That wasn't fair.

Jason Statham as Parker in the moment of ultimate retribution looking a little sad as he's about to shoot the head mobster'ROBBING' HOOD
Parker is a man of his word.. "When I say I'll do something, I always follow through." It's not about the money, so much as getting paid. Just so it's clear, at the end he says "It's not about money."  He gets the money and gives a lot of it away. Half to Leslie Rogers, and some (the other half?) to the couple who helped him when he was left for dead on the side of the road. It definitely brings into question who's it hurting when really really rich people get robbed? The main heist in the movie is for $75 million in jewels. They show a few wealthy people fawning over the jewels and generally being shallow, vain, and self-indulgent.  At least that's my take on it. I doubt many really wealthy people would see Parker. They are probably watching some worthy cause documentary at Sundance après ski, looking for something to donate to in order to alleviate their guilt and justify keeping their wealth.  The ability to identify with the common man has got to be part of why Action Movies are so popular worldwide.  It's the 99%.

Parker joined the crew that pulled off the Ohio State Fair heist for $1million on the recommendation of Nick Nolte's character Hurley who vouched for the group.  A couple of wrong notes in the movie for me were that everyone in the van had a gun but Parker, and that Hurley should have known one of the group was 'connected'. Both are a little flimsy as plot devices.  Of course both are possible, but not plausible. Also, wouldn't you have Googled "$50-75 million in jewels Palm Beach" and expected to find out about the auction. Needing Leslie Rogers to find that out was also a little thin. It didn't affect my enjoyment of the movie overall. I just hate it when I notice something, and it takes me out of the story for a moment.  The rest was great fun. The pacing was really good as well. There were lots of little moments of humor that kept me chuckling. On the whole, it was a group of believable characters.  I'm adding Micah A. Hauptman to my list of Whiners for his stellar pussy-ness in the portrayal of August Hardwicke. His red-line panic and outright cowardice kept me thoroughly entertained. 

I really liked Parker. I would buy it and watch it again. I like the Action, the lines, and the chemistry between Statham and Lopez. Makes you want to see them together again. I think he really would have liked her, he just was already 'involved'. His amused little smile said so much. He said something about why he couldn't/wouldn't sleep with her (it wasn't "never open the package"), but there was background noise in the theater and I didn't catch it. :( I'd pay to see it again if I was rich just to catch that line. Maybe it was 'It's not good to bend the rules." (Sorry, I am really enjoying quoting The Transporter.) Statham's acting was perfect. He might not get critical acclaim for it, but I hope the box office popularity/paycheck makes up for that. 

I loved that they made Jason Statham's character an object of lust for Leslie Rogers. Almost makes up for the gratuitous boobs here and there (almost).  Brings to mind the line from Casino Royale . . . "perfectly formed ass".  Can't help but like it when they objectify men. Payback's a bitch.  And in case you need an extra shot of Statham to make you go see Parker, here's something to make you remember just how awesome The Transporter was:

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