We've seen Parker before.
The tough-nut anti-hero of Donald E. Westlake’s crime novels has been brought to life already by Lee Marvin in Point Blank , Robert Duvall in The Outfit and Mel Gibson in Payback (among others), but now it’s Jason Statham’s turn.
An odd choice for director Taylor Hackford, the hard-boiled edge might be more than a little undercooked, but the new Parker is still plenty of violent, nasty, fun.
Statham’s mononymous crook works for a gang that likes dangerous, outlandish heists and dressing up in silly costumes.
When we first meet him, he’s a kindly grey-haired priest distracting the guards at a funfair while his cronies (led by Michael Chiklis) clean out the safe in full clown makeup.
He might be a ruthless career criminal, but he has a heart of gold, only “stealing from people who can afford it, and only hurting people who deserve it”. When someone who doesn’t deserve it gets hurt, Parker decides to quit - and his gang decide to leave him for dead.
Tracking his ex-crew down to sweaty San Antonio to take his revenge, things get messy for the Stath when Jennifer Lopez’s lonely realtor gets in the way.
Sadly for her, the sexual chemistry never really gets the chance to fizzle - with only a shameless strip tease (with all the erotic charge of an airport security check) distracting Parker from his real girlfriend back home.
J-Lo might be treading water, but Statham gets the chance to show Hollywood’s tough guys how a real man throws a punch. The answer, it seems, is straight to the face with a ceramic toilet tank lid.
It’s not all good news (the mid-section sags inbetween two solid heists), but Statham was born to play noir’s enduring hard-ass.
And he’d make mincemeat out of Robert Duvall…