"Parker": Jason Statham steals the movie


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Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013, 10:30 am
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By Connie Ogle

"Parker" roars into a dull January and enlivens the movie landscape, and thank the action-movie gods because we needed a little something to wake us from our winter slumber.

Based on a novel in a series by Richard Stark, the alter ego of the late, great Donald E. Westlake, the film basically is a heist-and-payback movie. But it's made with such skill and smarts it stands above such eye-rolling blow-'em-up fare as Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Last Stand," its main competition at the box office.

As played by the ever-stoic Jason Statham (the "Transporter" and "Expendables" films), Parker is more antihero than hero: He operates on the wrong side of the law, but he's got a complicated code of ethics.

He will steal -- and steal quite unremorsefully -- but only from people who can afford it, he said. If you stumble into one of the many crimes he commits, he won't hurt you as long as you do exactly what he tells you to do. He doesn't go looking to hurt innocents. But all bets are off if you don't follow directions, and woe unto anyone who dares to cheat him.

A double-cross precisely is what happens in the opening scene of "Parker": A crew carries out a daring robbery at the Ohio State Fair. The heist does not run smoothly -- not all the thieves in this bunch are as detail-oriented as Parker -- and after their escape, the second in command, the menacing Melander (Michael Chiklis of "The Shield" and "Vegas"), demands that Parker turn over his share of the profits to help finance the next job. "It's the score of a lifetime," he tells Parker.

Like any sensible individual who hears those words, Parker is skeptical. So he refuses and gets shot, robbed and dumped at the side of the road for his trouble.

The rest of the movie follows what happens when Parker recovers and decides to get his money back from -- and revenge on -- the guys who left him for dead. This requires him to figure out precisely what the next job is and where it's happening. The road to payback leads him to Palm Beach County, Fla., where the movie was partially filmed, and into the orbit of Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a real estate agent dying for her first commission.

Directed by Taylor Hackford ("Ray," "Proof of Life"), Parker is not without its absurdities. Melander is resourceful, but could he and his gang really commandeer a West Palm Beach fire truck? Patti Lupone goes a bit over the top as Lopez's super-ethnic mama, and Lopez gets stuck with a couple of unfortunate ditzy moments, courtesy of the script by John J. McLaughlin ("Hitchcock," "Black Swan").

But Statham, not always the most charismatic of actors, turns out to be a good choice to play the taciturn thief. He looks like the sort of guy who stands a good chance of getting out of any tight corner, even if his assailant is armed and he's not. Even the people who griped about Tom Cruise being cast as the towering Jack Reacher will have to admit Statham nicely fits in Parker's shoes.




"PARKER"


MPAA rating: R, for strong violence, language throughout, brief sexual content/nudity.
Length: 118 minutes.
Rating: 3 stars.












 



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  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




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