Parker Taylor Hackford

Parker Taylor Hackford
Whoever's bright idea it was to hire Taylor Hackford to direct Jason Statham as Donald E. Westlake's popular and long-lived ethical antihero criminal, Parker, is responsible for another stillborn franchise starter.

This iteration of Parker is destined for a future of vying for spine space in discount bargain bins. Rather than just remaking the cucumber-cool thief's first outing (The Hunter, better known as retooled Mel Gibson vehicle Payback), Jonathan J. McLaughlin (Black Swan, Carnivale) sullies his reputation with this royal bed-shitting adaptation of a later period Parker caper, 2000's Flashfire.

After a carefully planned heist goes violently awry due to the incompetence of a pampered team member, Parker is double-crossed and left for dead when he doesn't want to invest his share of the haul in the group's next big score. Presented as an action hero badass, which is basically the prerequisite for every role Statham takes, a bullet wound is nothing a bottle of pills and some testicular fortitude can't handle.

We're supposed to buy that Parker is some sort of master of disguise because he changes basic outfits and can apply a fake moustache to his stiff upper lip and plunk on a different hat or toupee when the situation calls for him to go incognito. Wanting only what's owed to him and nothing more, Parker elicits the wrath of some big city mobsters when he won't back down from his pursuit of the jackasses who wronged him, one of which is a Peewee Herman-dressing bigwig gangster's nephew.

His fastidious code of ethics brings the heat down on his faithful, extremely understanding and wholly one-dimensional girlfriend (Emma Booth) and her father (Nick Nolte), who set him up with the unprincipled pricks (led by a scenery chewing Michael Chiklis) in the first place. What follows is a lot of poorly shot action and faux-intrigue with more plot-holes and lapses in logic than a Michael Bay movie.

Presumably to broaden the film's demographic and add a chain-yanking, implausible romance angle, Jennifer Lopez appears as a greedy, needy and annoying real estate agent who wants to help Parker because she's bored and needs cash due to some convoluted divorce bunkum.

Were this anything more than an obvious piece of ill-considered trash, it'd be worth noting just how careless Parker is for a supposedly meticulous pro. But by the time the credits role, viewers will likely just identify with the character — ready to break some bones to get their money back. (eOne)