Review: 'Parker' is Worth a Look

The temptation with a film like "Parker" is chalk it up as another standard action movie, inconsequential and meaningless. This would be unfair, however, as "Parker" is generally fun to watch and an entertaining time at the theater, if you're a fan of the genre. Perhaps it's my Jason Statham bias or the absurdly low expectations any January film comes with, but it was difficult not to appreciate the characters and fluidity of the effort. Poster quote: "Parker," a film that's a little better than you'd expect!

Parker (Jason Statham) lives by a simple ethos: He always does what he says he's going to do, and he expects the same from everyone else. This is the same character Mel Gibson played in "Payback," though he was named Porter back in 1999. Parker is not a good guy; in fact, he's quite a violent human, and he has no qualms with stealing cars or beating people up to get what he wants (or to exact revenge). They've given a slight head tilt toward Parker being a protector of innocents, but overall he's still an anti-hero. This is refreshing as the "good guy" who kills for righteous causes has been done and overdone ever since the birth of the western genre and "Die Hard."

A slight nitpick is the hilariously inaccurate use of geography. As a native Floridian, I can tell you no one is taking a cab from Boca Raton, FL., to Lake Okeechobee. Likewise, The Breakers Hotel and The Boca Raton Resort and Club are considered to be interchangeable when, back in real life, they are a solid 45 minute drive away, not even counting traffic. The characters of "Parker" would have spent most of their life in traffic if they made these choices. It's odd to include real-life landmarks and then get all the details wrong, but it won't matter to 96 percent of the folks who buy a ticket, so it's hard to ding the oversight too much. The film also makes strange logical and character choices throughout. Parker impersonates a rich Texan, for no apparent reason, during about 30 minutes of the movie, and he's also asked to go in on a job that doesn't make chronological sense. There's an entire real estate surveillance angle that is mediocre at best. Finally, certain phone calls and follow-up points are either not accounted for or simply forgotten within the script.

Overall, though, there's more good than bad in the two hours "Parker" spans. There are two main thrusts of action, the first being the action beat that opens the film. It's around 20 minutes long and fairly well done — always nice to start a movie with solid momentum. The next plot direction involves a standard revenge tale. Parker has been wronged, and he plans to both settle and steal the score. South Florida also brings along the film's secondary lead, Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez). The chemistry between Statham and Lopez is laudable, far better than anything she managed on "American Idol." The typical "big plan for revenge and riches" is well established and executed, so there's not much in the way of extraneous nonsense there.

In the end, we're left with a matter-of-fact protagonist who is as direct as he is effective. Sometimes in life, simple pleasures can be rewarding, and that's certainly the case here. "Parker" is not a particularly innovative film, but it's no less effective for the blemish.

Grade: C+