Adapted from the novel Flashfire by Donald E Westlake, 'Parker' is an action thriller about a professional thief who is double-crossed by his team and then swears revenge.
The set-up is familiar and, regrettably, director Taylor Hackford and screenwriter John J McLaughlin lazily go through the motions, ticking off genre tropes without any sense of urgency or stylistic flair.
Bone-crunching fist fights, slickly edited heists and a gratuitous shower sex scene provide a tired framework for another emotionless performance from Jason Statham as the robber who only pilfers from the rich and corrupt.
Innuendo-laden banter between his vengeance-seeking hero and a disposal supporting cast appears to have been recycled from the cutting room floor of bygone James Bond escapades.
“My gun’s bigger than yours!” snarls one security guard.
“It’s not the size, it’s how you use it,” retorts the eponymous thief, discharging his tiny firearm.
Co-star Jennifer Lopez makes her entrance after about 45 minutes, necessitating a jarring tonal shift into light comedy that leaves Hackford facing a quandary.
Should he appeal to the Statham fan-boys, who expect gun play and death-defying acrobatics in the face of certain death?
Or does he cater to Lopez’s female-heavy audience, who expert their sassy chica to snag her man by ramping up the sexual tension?
Hackford half-heartedly appeals to both camps and ultimately satisfies no one.
Parker (Statham) accepts a job from his mentor Hurley (Nick Nolte) to steal a cool 1.5 million dollars from the Ohio State Fair, aided by an untested four-strong crew: Melander (Michael Chiklis), Carlson (Wendell Pierce), Hardwicke (Micah A Hauptman) and Ross (Clifton Collins Jr).
The robbery unfolds largely as planned, then Melander and his buddies turn on Parker, leaving the thief for dead by the roadside.
Miraculously, Parker survives multiple gunshot wounds and tracks the treacherous crew to Palm Beach, Florida, where they are plotting to steal jewels from a high-society auction.
Posing as a rich Texan called Daniel Parmitt, Parker joins forces with cash-strapped estate agent Leslie Rogers (Jennifer Lopez) to kill Melander and fence the gems, worth an eye-watering 75 million dollars.
“I’m sick of chauffeuring these wannabe playboys who have never worked a day in their lives!” whimpers Leslie, by way of a flimsy explanation for her willingness to get involved with Parker’s suicidal scheme.
'Parker' is hamstrung by the awkward pairing of Statham and Lopez.
Their dialogue falls flat.
“How do you sleep at night?” she purrs.
“I don’t drink coffee after 7pm,” he growls.
Anyone expecting a repeat of Lopez’s sexually charged pursuit of George Clooney in 'Out Of Sight', which practically melted celluloid, will be sorely disappointed.
Screen chemistry here with her muscle-bound leading man is completely inert.
Not so much 'Out Of Sight', Hackford’s film is certainly out of mind as soon as the end credits roll.
Star Rating 2½