Movie Review: Parker is Cable TV's next hit movie
About an hour into Parker it occurred to me that there hadn’t been a single commercial break. Not once did an obnoxious pop-up appear in the bottom-right corner of the screen advertising some new sitcom. The film didn’t even open with a statement warning that it had been edited for mature content and time constraints. Parker felt wrong without those cable TV hallmarks, and it certainly isn’t the type of film you want to spend two hours cooped up in a theater with.
It’s the kind of film you can tune out on, run for a snack, or even channel surf for a few minutes without missing a beat. It’s dumb enough that you can enjoy it in fits and starts, but in a theater, I found myself squirming in my seat between the bigger story beats.
The movie theater is meant for movies that take themselves seriously, or for films that intelligently don’t take themselves seriously. Parker is deadly serious and seriously dumb. The film forces Jason Statham to play a supposed master of disguise, and then insists that J.Lo would believe his attempt at a southern drawl. It’s silly, B-grade writing with an A-ish cast and budget.
Had I the freedom to step out occasionally, grab a snack, and snuggle up on the couch with Parker on a lazy Sunday, I’d likely sing its praises. The film is mostly entertaining and enjoyable to watch, but it doesn’t aspire to much. By the time Statham dons his third disguise you can’t help but ask what the casting department was thinking. Then, he steals about a dozen cars, stabs people, and delivers some appropriate one-liners and you can see they got it half-right.
Jennifer Lopez, typecast as ever, plays the loud-mouthed every-woman who stumbles upon Parker’s true-identity. She becomes the bumbling counterpart to his deadly efficiency. She also strips down to her undies and shows off her booty. So it’s pretty much like every other Jennifer Lopez role you’ve ever seen.
Watching Jason Statham play his usual efficient badass is still quite enjoyable, and there are some fun moments among the various heists, brawls, and shootouts. Still, there’s something off about the plotting and pacing here. The setup for Parker’s Palm Beach revenge on his former partners is overly long. Lopez’s eventual introduction is seeded into the plot so late that when the actual plot begins it feels like an entirely different film has started.
The flaws here—the silly casting, awkward pacing, and semi-dumb plot—would all be forgiven in the right context. Parker seems designed for renting and TV re-runs. It can’t hang in the theater, though, where you can’t justify the cost of dozing off here and there or flipping to the next channel.