By Alexander Wood
The sharp blue of a pristine sky is pushed out of view by the swirling lights and the screams of those strapped into a carnival ride. Calm and chaos mingle as families walk around the Ohio State Fair. The release of green balloons into the air launches an operation to steal one million in cash. This unlikely gang pulls off this risky heist while using a fire as a diversion to make their escape. While on the road Parker (Jason Statham) is the victim of a coup, shot numerous times by his gang and left for dead—beginning a tale of blood and vengeance.
Parkers’ character has been refined in 24 of Donald E Westlake’s novels and has now been translated onto the screen as a force to be reckoned with. Parker’ is made in the predictable Jason Statham vehicle, one which wouldn’t exist without copious amounts of blood, bullets and barbarous statements. Anyone who has seen ‘The Transporter’ , ‘Crank’ , ‘The Mechanic’ or ‘The Expendables’ knows that once you take your seat in the theatre, you are in Statham’s world, and it is better not to ask too many questions. Having a focused and unforgiving hero is to be expected in any film where Statham appears, however this consistency is a strength in Parker because he doesn’t try to be emotionally well-rounded. By operating within his archetype Parker doesn’t falsely attempt to be a family man or a productive member of his community, he is a master thief and a killer and remains steadfast in his characterisation.
That being said, Parker does live by a strict moral code, as he won’t steal from people who can’t afford it, and doesn’t hurt the innocent. Basically he is a mix between Robin Hood and a samurai, and his enemies are on the receiving end of these qualities. The narrative of the film is motivated by Parker’s die hard commitment to chase down those who do not keep their word. This quality in a man who can easily kill his opponents, acts to contain the utter chaos that would otherwise be unleashed. Although Parker is the central focus throughout the film, many supporting characters add extra elements. Most notably, Leslie Rodgers’ (Jennifer Lopez) performance is subtle, believable and steers clear of the predictability that plagues female sidekicks in most action films.
In terms of the filmmaking, there are a few key elements that suggest the film was trying to weave some filmic style into the entertaining yet predictable narrative. The use of text superimposed over the film denotes various shifts in location and time, and is an element that is clearly visible from the opening scene. ‘Chicago’, ‘West Palm Beach’ and ‘One Year Later’ are among the title cards that divide and help facilitate the narrative. Other elements of the film’s cinematography stick pretty close to the norm by using typical overexposed flashback sequences and subtle elements of handheld filmmaking. However, just before the biggest robbery in the film, the camera shows an accelerated shift between night and day. The framing of the scene remains constant however the sense of time is sped up. Despite these elements there is nothing significant in the narrative or filmmaking.
If you are expecting a cinematic masterpiece then ‘Parker’ isn’t your film, but if you are a fan of Statham, blood and chaos, you with find something to be entertained by.