FILM OF THE WEEK: PARKER (2013)


SYNOPSIS:

Parker is a professional thief who refuses either to steal from people who can't afford the loss or hurt those who are innocent. On his latest heist, his crew double-crosses him, stealing his cash and then leaving him for dead. Parker sets out to get his revenge, tracking them down in Palm Beach where they are planning a heist to end all heists. Parker takes on a disguise and a savvy partner, Leslie. Together they come up with a plan to foil the heist and get away without a hitch.

I've reported a lot about actor Jason Statham in recent months, as he is also one of the busiest people working in his industry between now and next year. He's got a few gems rolling out soon enough, which include Redemption, Homefront, Heat, a possible appearance in The Expendables 3, and his explosive entrance in Fast And Furious 6 going into Fast And Furious 7, which kicks off the third of a series of epic trilogies with director James Wan at the helm.

Having said this, it surprises me that every now and then we still hear about action movies flopping, even in an era where everything most of us have grown to know and love about action movies is coming back hard and heavy into the mainstream thanks to the likes of action legends such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren and Bruce Willis, and even people like Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung with Hong Kong cinema's ceremonious return to its roots with Wilson Yip thriller, SPL. When I rented Parker during memorial day weekend, it was one of the best film experiences I've ever had. I would have seen it in theaters had I not blown my going-out money on celebrating my birthday, but to be honest, for a great night of great Korean BBQ, I wouldn't have traded it for anything else. ;-D

Parker film tells a gritty revenge heist story based on a series of novels by Donald Westlake (a.k.a. Richard Stark) about a professional thief who lives by a code of honor and principles that entail stealing only from those who can afford to be robbed, never hurting the harmless or needy, and kill if only necessary. When a job at a state fair in Ohio nearly goes bust, Parker and his team, led by Melander (Michael Chiklis) flee with what they have and all appears to be resolved until his team turns on him for not agreeing to a job in that could set them all for life. All hell breaks loose on the road and Parker barely escapes within an inch of his life before being shot by Hardwicke (Michah Hauptman) as he is left bloodied and dying near a swamp. Soon, a family of farmers take Parker to a nearby hospital, where he begins his journey to get even with the people who double-crossed him and left him for dead.

Once in Palm Beach, Florida, he takes on a new identity and bumps into a Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez) a beautiful, single and disgruntled real estate agent with dreams of a better life, who takes him on a tour of several houses in the area. However, it is not until she discovers her client is not who he says he is that he eventually recruits her to help him find the people he is looking for, in exchange for her own share of the earnings.

When Melander and Hardwicke find out Parker is still alive, Parker's girlfriend, Claire (Emma Booth) and her father, Hurley (Nick Nolte), are forced to evade third party attempts by Hardwicke's mob connections to wipe them out. Running out of time and places to hide, and with a romantically interested beat cop (Bobby Carnavale) pursuing Leslie, Parker has no choice but to move forward as planned, even after his mission proves to be more dangerous than expected.

Director Taylor Hackford and screenwriter John J. McLaughlin did an incredible job transitioning Westlake's story to the big screen. I liked Brian Helgeland's work on the 1999 film, Payback, but I enjoyed how Hackford involuntarily, and essentially managed to take what Helgeland did and added the action element this film needed to work. Statham's look and overall notoriety as an action hero to kick off the new millenium made him a pretty good choice for the role. In addition to the film as a whole, the key scene that packages this flick is the brutal and bloody smackdown that takes place between Statham, and actor and martial arts stunt veteran Daniel Bernhardt where both actors did their own stunts and gave it their all.

I dug this film, and in my opinion, it should have been another hit and had no business flopping. This is partly why I chose Parker as this week's Film Of The Week, and I hope that you all will go purchase, rent or stream your copy, wherever films are sold.

The Action Elite has a new interview up this week featuring Daniel Bernhardt where he talks about his career, his experience on the set of Parker, and more. You can listen to that interview HERE.

Statham's next film, Redemption, is slated for North American theatrical and streaming release on June 28, 2013.

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