The smirk stays the same and his movies never transcend the merely serviceable, so how does British hard case Jason Statham keep in work? It’s not exactly a burning question, but with the title creation of crime-novel giant Donald E. Westlake in the actor’s hands, it’s easy to yearn for the days when Statham stuck to Guy Ritchie projects. Based on 2000’s Flashfire, the tonally confused Parker—you feel its weirdness even in the editing, heavy on dissolves—puts Statham in the role of a ruthless robber, betrayed by nincompoop colleagues whom he eventually goes apeshit on. Nothing burns in Statham: There’s no fire in those lad-mag squints, nothing on the level of Lee Marvin’s relentless drive in 1967’s Point Blank, also based on a Westlake property.
After recovering from a left-for-dead roadside disposal, Parker heads south to Florida’s swanky Palm Beach, where bored director Taylor Hackford has few visual ideas that weren’t better explored on Miami Vice. Hotel balconies look out on pastel ocean vistas, a ridiculous ten-gallon hat is donned by our incognito antihero, and your hand automatically makes the let’s-get-on-with-it gesture. The smidgen of dramatic color offered by Jennifer Lopez, as a divorced real-estate broker drawn into Parker’s payback scheme, is offset by her character’s shocking naïveté, shedding her clothes on command (as if she still couldn’t hide a wire somewhere) and falling unconvincingly for Statham’s featureless cipher. When a well-appointed film only makes you want to crack the book, something’s amiss.
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