Jason Stathan slips into the Sta-Prest slacks of avenging angel Parker for this lame potboiler.
"I don’t mind the despair; it’s the hope I can’t stand!” For many people, Jason Statham’s film career echoes John Cleese’s cry of cosmic exasperation with life’s interminable variables in the film Clockwise.
Surely if we all just accepted that The Stath is nothing more than a gravel-larynxed pack-animal bred to carry out action cinema’s heavy lifting then we could all just get on with our goddamned lives. Instead, a good number of hardy souls cling on to the idea that with the right material and a canny director he could become a proper movie star. Not a Clint Eastwood, no, but a Mickey Rourke or a Liam Neeson.
Parker, based on the novels by Richard Stark (previously the basis for John Boorman’s Point Blank) and directed by the dependably classy Taylor Hackford (An Officer And A Gentleman, Ray), surely represents Statham’s best shot yet at slipping the greasy bonds of B-moviedom.
A nails-hard career criminal who lives by his own corrugated sense of honour might not be much of a reach. Nor does a plot that follows Parker’s arterial-red hunt for the gang that betrayed him and left him for dead sound like it veers too far from Statham’s usual stamping ground.
Nevertheless, the film starts solidly enough, with a robustly choreographed fairground heist recalling the hard-man '70s thrillers to which it clearly aspires. Unfortunately, everything goes south soon after.
Scenes of interchangeable violence and slatefaced thuggery dot Parker’s listless, somewhat confusing journey to his erstwhile chums' hideout in Palm Beach, where he attempts to blend in by posturing in hotel lobbies in a Sta-Prest seersucker suit, hand-tooled cowboy boots and an oversize Stetson that make him look like a bald, Cockney Gram Parsons.
All this before J-Lo pops up as a beleaguered real estate agent and the entire production decides that it would much rather be Out Of Sight than Point Blank after all. Alas, this sorry excuse for tough-guy cinema can’t hold a candle to either.
Can Statham finally ditch the Euro-puddings and lads’ mag DVD schlockers and go bona fide?
Things get off to a flying start, but you just know your luck isn’t going to hold.
Another 3, 2, 1 LWLies score? Fraid so. Especially when Parker is compared with – get this – Jesus Christ by a couple of credulous hayseeds over the closing credits.