Parker (2013) directed by Taylor Hackford
Parker is a character tailor-made for Jason Statham. Parker is a loner tough guy who can get a job done. Most of his jobs are of the illegal sort, but at least Parker has a moral code that puts him in the sympathetic-to-likable category. He doesn't steal from people who can't afford it and he doesn't hurt people who don't deserve it. Statham as Parker definitely has the skills to get things done without killing and has enough charm to make him seem almost like a good guy.
The movie begins with a heist at the Ohio State Fair. The weekend ticket sales are somewhere between a million and 1.5 million dollars, making a good haul for five well-organized thieves. Parker does the organizing. The heist goes mostly without a hitch except one of the guys sets fire to hay bales by a stage rather than the live stock pens, which endangered some lives. The fire is only supposed to be a distraction that facilitates the getaway. The guy doesn't really care but Parker is ready to take his cut and dump these losers during the getaway.
The problem is the other brainy guy in the group, Melander, has another heist he's ready to do but he needs all five guys. Parker declines. Melander decides Parker can't live if he knows about the plan (though the information about the plan is rather meager and doesn't really justify killing Parker). Naturally, when the four other guys try to kill Parker, he just about makes it out alive. After a brief gunfight, Parker jumps from the moving car but is knocked unconscious on the road. The guys stop and they send the guy who messed up the fire to shoot Parker dead. As you might imagine, he messes up the shooting, leaving Parker for dead rather than dead. Parker is discovered by a good Samaritan family who take him to a local hospital. Before he even recovers, he escapes the hospital and seeks revenge against the four that done him wrong. The trip will take him to some dodgy places in exotic locales like New Orleans and Miami as he tracks down their next heist in order to kill them.
Jennifer Lopez is shoe-horned into the story as a Miami real estate agent who is pretty desperate. She drives Parker (who is posing as a wealthy Texan) around to various houses he might rent though he is actually trying to find the bad guys' hideout. When she finally figures out something of what he's up to, she helps him for a cut of the heist. Too bad for her Parker isn't interested so much in the heist or in her as a girlfriend (he's got one back in Chicago to whom he remains faithful, another check in the sympathetic-to-likable category). But he's an upstanding guy and by the end of the film he's taking care of her and the family who were good Samaritans to him.
The movie Parker is much like the heists in the film. A somewhat clever set-up leads to a simple smash-and-grab of valuables with a getaway tagged on the end. I enjoyed it well enough. It had some good laughs and lots of hard-hitting Statham action. The fights get a little graphic and the consequences don't last for long. Parker had a knife jabbed through his hand which was a problem during the fight but later, after his girlfriend sews up the wound, everything is fine. Also, when he left the hospital after gun shot wounds and a concussion he was back in fighting form in a day or two. Realism isn't the movie's strong point or even something remotely close to what they've done. Sometimes stuff like that bothers me but other times I just go with it. Going in with low expectations is a requirement for this film. Mine were low enough to make it enjoyable but I'm not sure I can recommend it.
Oh, and here's a fabulous line delivered perfectly by Statham when he's "interrogating" a guy with a bar stool:
If you don't tell me what I need to know, I'm gonna press down on this chair until it crushes your trachea. Trust me, it's agonizing. Plus, there's the posthumous humiliation of having been killed with a chair.
Parental advisory: In addition to the dubious morality of all the characters except for the Samaritan family, there's lots of violence and bad language. And Parker makes sure Jennifer Lopez isn't wearing a wire when she offers to help him out. So we all get to see her in her underwear, which isn't a spoiler because it's in the trailer. It's a solid R-rated film.