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Parker is a thief who lives by one rule: Do what you’re supposed to or there’ll be trouble!
He likes his crimes well-planned out so that no one will get hurt, and he tries to keep everybody calm until the robbery is over. Parker and a group of men rob the Ohio County Fair, but first something goes wrong because someone deviates from the plan (a deadly sin to Parker) and then the men try to convince him to throw his money from the job into another job they’re planning. When he says no, they shoot him and leave him for dead. Which of course, he’s not, so we know how much trouble these other guys are in even if they don’t.
Parker isn’t a stretch role for Jason Statham, he’s been playing almost this same character for years in the Transporter movies, though he has a different set of rules as that character, but they’re similar enough.
The nice thing about Parker is that it’s more like the first Transporter, in that Statham does most of the stunts and while some of them still seem a bit outlandish, they’re believable for an action movie. The fight scenes are somewhat realistic, with the characters relying on objects in their environment to fend off knife attacks and running when they need to instead of trying to take the other person down. Parker takes a lot of punishment and keeps on coming, but there were a few times I thought he should’ve fallen over from the accumulation of his injuries. But we come to understand how driven Parker is to get his revenge and his money by the fact that he’s so injured but he just keeps going. He’s not a robot; the injuries take their toll on him. It’s kind of funny to watch him limp along to the finale of the movie and to watch the villains take advantage of his weaknesses in the ensuing fight.
There are plenty of bad guys in Parker, from the former robbery partners to the mob hitmen chasing down Parker’s wife and his father-in-law, but there’s a distinct lack of good characters for the audience to root for, except for Jennifer Lopez’s character, Leslie, who is a struggling real-estate agent that falls in with Parker when he goes shopping for a house. While the audience might root for Parker, he’s still a thief at the end of the day, kind of a Robin Hood that kills. His former partners aren’t too fleshed out, and that makes them a little weak as main villains, even though Parker has a good reason for going after them and getting his revenge. Less exciting are the mentions of Danzinger, a mob boss that one of the criminals is connected to and who isn’t seen until very late in the film. While obviously a bad enemy to have, the fact that people talk about him but that he’s never seen makes him a shadow threat at best. They could’ve added some connection between Danzinger and Parker that would’ve made their confrontation a bit more fulfilling for the audience.
Jennifer Lopez does a good job as Leslie Rodgers, and the scenes of her and her mom in their condo are funny and get even more entertaining when Parker ends up having to stay there for a while.
The end of Parker won’t really surprise anyone, though there’s at least one moment that made me like Parker more than I had in the rest of the film.
I liked watching Parker find ways to finish off the other thieves that didn’t involve a five minute fist fight, because he’s so injured that he can’t possibly make that work.