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Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional thief who lives by a personal code of ethics: Don't steal from people who can't afford it and don't hurt people who don't deserve it. But on his latest heist, his crew double crosses him, steals his stash, and leaves him for dead. Determined to make sure they regret it, Parker tracks them to Palm Beach, playground of the rich and famous, where the crew is planning their biggest heist ever. Donning the disguise of a rich Texan, Parker takes on an unlikely partner, Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a savvy insider, who's short on cash, but big on looks, smarts and ambition. Together, they devise a plan to hijack the score, take everyone down and get away clean.
For more about Parker and the Parker Blu-ray release, see Parker Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Taylor Hackford
Writer: John J. McLaughlin
Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins, Jr., Emma Booth
» See full cast & crew
Parker Blu-ray Review
Follow your code and buy the Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 4, 2013
We don't steal from people who can't afford it, and we don't hurt people that don't deserve it.
Sounds noble, right? Like in a Robin Hood-ish sort of way? Well, stealing is stealing, hurting is hurting, loss is loss, suffering is suffering, blood on the ground is blood on someone's hands, be the victim sinner or saint, wealthy snob or blue collar working stiff. Different moral strokes for different sorts of folks, but as Parker is about to discover, there's a whole lot of pain in thieving and hurting, particularly when it gets personal and the score becomes revenge rather than fortune. Based on the character created by novelist Donald Westlake under the pen name Richard Stark, Parker marks yet another go for star Jason Statham in the world of dark, gritty Action flicks in which he marries suave with scruff, bloody with bold to largely enjoyable results. Parker doesn't earn any points for originality (what movies do these days?) but it scores big in terms of raw entertainment. This is slick, fast, polished Action moviemaking that's largely all downhill from a strong opening but that keeps up just enough momentum -- dramatically and from an action perspective both -- to hold its audience on through to the end.
Parker (Statham) is a criminal with a code, a man who will take what he needs from those who can afford to lose it, but he will only do so if it means protecting the innocent people that will inevitably become entangled in the mess. For his latest job, he's teamed up with four others to get away with a stash of cash from the Ohio State Fair. The job goes according to plan, at least until the man responsible for setting off the diversion alters the plan and kills an innocent man in the process. Nevertheless, they complete the job and make their escape. Even before they can divide their prize, the group -- led by Melander (Michael Chiklis) -- insists Parker pitch in his share of the loot to set in motion another heist, a job that will net each man millions, not the six-figure chump change they've just stolen from the fair. When Parker refuses, he's beaten, shot, and left for dead. Of course, die he does not. He's saved by a good samaritan and, when his body is adequately healed, he sets out to track down Melander and his gang to Palm Beach, Florida, where they're staging the next job, the robbery of high dollar jewelry from a pricy auction. In the Sunshine State, he surreptitiously teams up with a lonely and broke real estate agent (Jennifer Lopez) who becomes a key player in Parker's quest for revenge.
Parker isn't rightly labeled a "shallow" film, but it's certainly not a thought-provoking picture or a bastion of cinematic creativity, for that matter. The plot trudges through familiar ground -- guy is out for those who wronged him, gal gets caught in the middle, chaos ensues -- but it treads the well-beaten path with an expertise that enhances the experience rather than elicit a feeling of déjà vu. Parker strives only to entertain as a rock-solid and highly dependable Actioner, a muscular, edgy, gritty, blood-soaked experience that feeds off Jason Statham's gruff intensity and builds a movie to his strengths. It's more grounded than the cartoonish over-the-top fare that is either of the Crank movies and it's a bit more intense and polished than any of the Transporter films. It finds a nice balance that, maybe more than any other film in which Statham earns top billing, defines the typical "Jason Statham Experience." And that means a movie Action fans will want to sink their teeth into. Director Taylor Hackford (Proof of Life) shows an unflappable command of exactly the sort of Action that suits Statham's persona, capturing with great precision the sort of raw, bloody, personal, and relentless Action scenes that have made him a staple within the genre. In essence, then, this is a classic "expectations" sort of movie. If fans enter expecting a bloody good Jason Statham time, that's what they will get, but yearning for much of anything more will inevitably lead to a significant disappointment.
Statham is certainly the primary reason to watch, though the beautifully curvaceous Jennifer Lopez adds to the film beyond eye candy, finding gentle character humor to offset the grisly violence that permeates the picture. Her performance is largely limited to the classic archetype she portrays, but J-Lo nevertheless manages to bring a fair amount of charm to what is a fairly lazily scripted role. Unfortunately, the rest of the character roster could play a game of musical chairs with every scene and the movie wouldn't be any worse for it. Even screen stalwarts like Nick Nolte and large screen presences like Michael Chiklis never really command the moment, instead plodding through basic character constructs that are really only there to drive the plot head-on rather than gently steer it. Then again, the movie really has only one speed and one destination, so no real point in faulting the actors for failing to find depth where none really exists. Even Statham's and Lopez's characters are little more than one-trick ponies -- he the man of his own code who will stop at nothing to follow through on his mission and she the classic needy type who seems more interested in finding a man to get her out of debt rather than win her heart -- but they at least have the screen time and light chemistry to make a little something out of their minimal constructs.
Structurally, the film rarely relents in intensity, but it also never quite lives up to the quality of its opening heist. Parker really reels in its audience from its opening minutes, finding that perfect balance in creating a sense of dread and uncertainty even when some sort of action feels inevitable from the outset. Hackford and cast do a tremendous job in crafting a thick tension and building an uncomfortable atmosphere over the carnival, perfectly countering the family setting with that unmissable feeling of pending dread and coming wrongdoing. The end heist is nowhere near as visually satisfying or dramatically intense, but the film at least can fall back on the understanding that the heist is not the centerpiece of the final act but rather just the prelude for the final confrontation, a lead-up to the climax and not a set-up meant to capture the audience's attention and lure them into staying on through to the end. Even almost two hours in, that ending comes up quickly. The film moves briskly thanks to sharp editing that leaves no dialogue or expository scene feeling too bloated. The action comes in good time even if there's a sense of repetitiveness to it. All of the fights prove suitably grimy and gritty and hard, but there's not the sort of variety that might have elevated the movie to the next level.
Parker Blu-ray, Video Quality
Parker looks quite good on Blu-ray. The video source often passes for film quality, producing only the occasional hint of excess flatness and glossiness associated with some of the lower end digital productions. As with the best of the HD photography pictures, Parker's Blu-ray transfer reveals some amazing details and eye-popping colors. The opening fairgrounds is a playground for both. The clarity and definition around the frame -- whether close-up shots of fairgoers and the tents and prizes and rides or distant in-frame objects -- reveal precision textures and a natural sharpness that practically transport viewers to the location. The color palette is one of the more diverse audiences will see this year. There's a seemingly endless landscape of brilliant hues, from the most earthen colors on the ground to the most dazzling bright shades seen on clowns, tents, rides, and prizes. Much the same may be said of the film's Florida setting. It's not quite so wide a palette, but beautiful greens, hot reds, and even a pink building offer wonderful stability in the frame. Details, too, are quite good elsewhere. Whether a dirty old mesh cap, the small inscriptions on a Glock pistol seen in a close-up, or regular facial lines and scruffy hair, the transfer picks up the finest little nuanced details in nearly every frame. Softness is a rare occurrence, noise is minimal, and a shimmering effect is only visible in one shot, seen at the 47:10 mark. Black levels are generally deep and true, while flesh tones never betray natural appearances. This is another fine transfer from Sony.
Parker Blu-ray, Audio Quality
With Parker, Sony has delivered another wonderful lossless soundtrack. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation delivers a wide, full sound, making natural use of every speaker in the configuration and oftentimes immersing the listening audience in the environments and mayhem of the film. In general, this is a fine, balanced track, one that's very smooth, very even, and enjoys a solid low end support to give definition and body to the other elements. The opening fairgrounds sequence oftentimes surrounds the listener with the exciting din of the place; chatty people, rides, games, music, and all sorts of basic sound effects blend together with a natural flavor that could only be topped by the real thing. The subsequent fire and explosion both offer a heavy, detailed presence that nicely offsets the more jovial atmosphere that precedes it. Likewise, the sonic signature of the end heist is much the same, not quite so vivid and rich but certainly almost as chaotic. All of the in-between action -- gunfire, punches, shattering and breaking odds and ends in and around fight environments -- comes through spectacularly, with a balance and just enough Action movie sound engineering push to drive the scene home. Music is enjoyably spaced and naturally clear, while dialogue plays with an even front-center presence. This is an entertaining and very well presented soundtrack from Sony.
Parker Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Parker contains a commentary track and a handful of featurettes.
Parker Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Parker is a fairly straightforward Action flick that plays to Statham's strengths. It's gritty, bloody, and hits very hard. In that way, it's not all that different from his other films, but it does feel a little more streamlined, less cartoonish than some and a little more uncompromising than others. It's a solid, ultra-dependable Action flick that won't redefine the genre or go down as a classic, but it should withstand the test of time as a movie genre fans will look to in the years to come as a picture that defines what Jason Statham is all about, an actor capable of delivering the Action movie goods while still showing a little bit of heart underneath all the blood stains and scars. Sony's Blu-ray is typical of the studio. It features standout video and audio to go along with a fairly routine supplemental section. Recommended.
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Parker Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Parker Blu-ray - March 25, 2013
FilmDistrict's crime thriller Parker will be released on Blu-ray on May 21. The film is directed by Taylor Hackford (The Devil's Advocate) and stars Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, and Nick Nolte.
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