Parker is somewhat of a departure from Jason Statham's usual style of action movie. Based upon the character created by author Richard Stark (AKA Donald E. Westlake), Parker has an emphasis on plot and old school hard-boiled dialogue, over fights and mayhem. Although those elements are present in the film, they do sit rather awkwardly with the modern action idiom. Director Taylor Hackford seems to struggle in finding the right style for Parker and the indecision results in a very uneven movie. However, it should be noted that bringing this particular character to the screen has proven difficult in the past, although John Boorman successfully achieved this with Point Blank, starring Lee Marvin.
Like the recent adaptation of Jack Reacher, Parker has a simple story that seems decidedly low-key in this day and age of Hollywood excess. Rather than being subjected to an over reaching plot filed with implausible deeds, we simply get a tale of a heist gone bad, a betrayal and the subsequent quest for of revenge. Michael Chiklis has little to do as the double-crossing gang leader Melander and his crew are simply bad by default. The movie is also punctuated with some quite jolting scenes of violence, which for some reason just seem to be out-of-place with the rest of the narrative. It as if screenwriter John J. McLaughlin felt obliged to cater for regular Statham fans.
The only real character that shows promise is Jennifer Lopez as an aspiring Real Estate Agent Leslie Rodgers, who throws her lot in with Parker in a last-ditch attempt to better her ailing career. Playing against type she gives a solid performance, doing her best with a role that could have been a lot better if developed further. As for Mr. Statham, he fills the role of Parker, the crook with a moral code, adequately. Yet despite the positive vibe between the two leads the movie struggles to find the right tone. The pacing is somewhat slow and despite the focus on story, there is still a great deal of plot points that are simply glossed over. Providing a greater insight as to why Parker is the way he is would have certainly been worth exploring.
Parker is a curious movie and not without good points, but it ultimately falls between two stools. It neither satisfies the hardcore action fan, nor does it truly embrace the role of a traditional thriller. It also squander's a good cast (including a brief cameo by Nick Nolte) by giving them little to do. However, it is nice to see Jason Statham expand his repertoire, as he is quite a charismatic actor in his own unique way. It will be interesting to see if there will be any further outings for this character. Several studios have tried to launch this franchise before and have failed. Perhaps the boat has sailed for Parker and he remains a relic of the decade that spawned him and simply isn't suited to today's cinematic tastes. If we do get to see Parker again, I would rather see the one from Thunderbirds.