Monday, September 30, 2013

Parallel Parker

We mainly watched Parker (2013) on the principle that you should watch anything with Jason Statham in it (yes, that includes In the Name of the King). But I'm also a great lover of Richard Stark's iconic Parker crime novels. They are deadpan and realistic, with Parker meticulously planning and carrying out modest, workable crimes that go horribly wrong. Parker is a great character, serious, detail oriented, principled (although crooked), and resourceful enough to get out of the scrapes he always winds up in - and lucky, I guess.

This is Statham's Parker as well, although with a touch more ass-kicking.

It starts with a heist at the Ohio State Fair involving clowns and fake firemen, and Parker's promise to the scared security guard: He never steals from people who can't afford it, never hurts people who don't deserve it, and if someone lies to him, he will make him suffer. The job goes over pretty well, except for an unplanned fatal fire. Where it really goes wrong is at the split. The gang wants to pool the take for another, bigger job. Parker wants to take his share and leave. They compromise by trying to kill him and toss his body in a ditch (not for the last time).

To fulfill his third rule (Lies -> Suffering), Parker sets out for revenge (and his cut). He tracks the gang down to Palm Beach, and gets failing real-estate agent Jennifer Lopez to show him around. She seems very comfortable in this role - a glam front with desperation just underneath. She also adds a bit of sunshine to this dark story. Too bad she has to meet Parker's angle Claire, Emma Booth.

Note that the clever heist schemes don't really make much sense. Richard Stark sometimes throws in a scene where the robbers are fighting and someone says, "This is a five person job, we can't do it with four" to break it up. But the job looks like it could be done with three or even fewer. Nonetheless, the gang is great, led by always fabulous and menacing Michael Chiklis. The black driver, greasy-haired psycho and spoiled brat mafia-connected punk round out the band.

In a lot of ways, this is just another Transporter - criminal with principles is crossed, gets revenge. I'm perfectly happy with it on those terms. Interrogating the Parker myth through the filter of the Statham persona is just a bonus.

In conclusion: Nick Nolte as Claire's father?!? The guy who introduces Parker to the Chiklis gang? What was that about?

No comments: