Sunday, January 27, 2013

Revenge noir, neo style

Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Nick Nolte, Patti LuPone. Directed by: Taylor Hackford. Based on the character created by Donald Westlake. Running time: 118 minutes, Summary : an unscrupulous real estate agent (Lopez) assists uber-cool tough guy Statham on his revenge quest.

style ***1/2
substance ***

pros : Lopez, Statham, LuPone, direction
cons : familiar story; murky ending; a little long

I just saw the film Parker and enjoyed it very much: it's well acted and directed, with lots of style and atmosphere. There are great on-location scenes in Ohio and, later, Palm Beach, where the film really hits its stride. 

Jason Statham makes a perfect Parker. Indeed, the character might well have been written with him in mind. He’s smart, world weary, intense, stubbly-faced (of course), and always one step ahead of his rivals, well, most of the time. Basically he's the incarnation of the likable criminal. Parker also boasts a terrific supporting cast, especially Parker's future father-in-law Nick Nolte and the Jennifer Lopez character’s slightly ditzy but appealing mother (Patti LuPone). But the real standout is Jennifer Lopez; she not only looks great but does some terrific acting as well, showing a range of emotions which often imply much more than what’s said.

One can nitpick about this or that plot problem, but Michael Curtiz-like, director Taylor Hackford keeps things flowing so well, with the tension & story twists in the foreground, that we really don’t bother to ask too many questions. Thus the film breezes along in its deceptively leisurely 118 minutes. I did wonder why Statham ended up in a Covington, Kentucky, hospital when he and his partners in crime had just committed a robbery in Columbus, Ohio. Whatever.

The only major credibility problem I had was how Statham could choose the mousy, anorexic blonde over a smoldering real woman like Jennifer Lopez, especially after he’s seen her undressed, to say nothing of Jennifer’s heroics in putting herself in harm’s way to help him out. Moreover, Statham and Lopez simply have a lot more on-screen chemistry than Statham and Emma Booth. Well, as the saying goes, there's no accounting for some tastes. BTW speaking of the Jennifer Lopez character it seems she could do a lot worse than the cop so obviously smitten with her.

An intelligent, well-crafted thriller that hasn't garnered the critical or popular respect it deserves, Parker is a terrific slice of neo-noir served up icy cool.

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