Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Cinema File #107: "Parker" Review

I've never really been a Jason Statham guy. It's not that I don't like him, as much as I find myself not really all that enthusiastic about the kinds of movies he does anymore. Much like how The Perks Of Being A Wallflower made me think about my own teen coming of age movies long past, with franchises like The Transporter or Crank, while I can enjoy them to a certain extent, they just make me wanna watch a Schwarzenegger movie, or a Stallone movie, or a Van Damme movie, or something from my own action movie canon that I've already spent years developing. Those classic films will be classics until I'm dead, and frankly, aside from the occasional nostalgic comeback vehicle like The Last Stand or The Expendables, I don't need a new action star to make any more of them. I mention all of this to preface my ambivalent reaction to Statham's new film Parker, which I might have enjoyed more had I been more inclined to.

Parker follows the titular bad-ass expert thief who finds himself double crossed and left for dead by his new crew, prompting him to seek bloody revenge with the help of the desperate real estate agent who unwittingly sold the bad guys their safe house. The film begins with the obligatory 'heist with a twist', where an expertly planned and perfectly choreographed job is pulled off with wacky costumes and unrealistic daring and precision, in this case, a County Fair robbed by Michael Chiklis in literal clown make-up and Statham dressed as a priest. This first scene sets the tone for the rest of the film right away, establishing a bland silliness just bordering on over the top, without quite ever escaping the standard action crime thriller sensibility into outright farce (unless you count the idea that a bad guy can shoot an unconscious victim at point blank range, miss, and somehow not notice, which is so far the single stupidest movie moment of 2013).

Should I turn the car around and check if he's dead? Nah!

When Parker focuses on the main character's single minded quest for vengeance, its a solid action movie, but it all too often gets distracted by other things that seem unnecessarily contrary to that mission. For one thing, the film takes great pains to stress Parker's strict moral code, that he only steals from people who can afford it and only hurts people who deserve it, when clearly a more harder edged character would have been better suited for this kind of story. Then once Jennifer Lopez' character comes in we spend so much time dealing with her sad life and her unrequited crush on Parker that really adds nothing to the story and would have been better spent crafting a more elaborate revenge tale. Its not that she's bad by the way, just that before we get to her, its already established that Parker is hopelessly in love with someone else (another distraction in my view), and Lopez' only reason for being there seems to be to provide flirtatious banter, the premise of which has already been undercut. It wouldn't be so bad if she weren't so practically useless as well, only serving to complicate things in the end when everything would have went much more smoothly had she just not been involved after a certain point.

As a result of all the side stuff getting in the way of Parker's mission, the actual revenge plot that is the main selling point for the film comes off as rushed and not nearly as interesting as it could have been. For plot convenience to make room for the funny costumes and sex appeal, Statham mows down every obstacle in his path quickly and with ease, and if not for all the other characters constantly assuring me that Parker's plan is so dangerous, I would never get the sense that anything he's facing is a challenge for him. I get the feeling that Lopez' true purpose in the film was to add an artificial complication to the final act, because it otherwise would have been too simple. The final stand off in the safe house is tense enough, if resolved much too easily, but I wanted a more drawn out effort, a complex cat and mouse game where two adversaries try to get into each others' heads. Instead, the bad guys find out the good guy's coming for them, they wait around for him while talking about how they can't let him get to them, and then he gets to them - the end.

Yes, you definitely should have turned the fucking car around!

If you're a big enough Statham fan, this might be enough to make a good movie, much like Jack Reacher and The Last Stand presented basically average action pablum but with enough charisma and nostalgia respectively to put them over the top for me. I had nothing to really latch onto with this one, so maybe that puts it a little closer to Alex Cross. Parker doesn't have as good a villain as that movie, though Chiklis does okay, but the film does certainly do more to actually show the main character's strengths instead of just telling us about them. I guess maybe its a wash, which I suppose is also the best way to describe my feelings towards this movie in general. See it, or don't, it probably isn't going to make much of an impact either way.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...