Parker (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 8, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Parker” is a Jason Statham film that does lives up to its action and gritty storyline. While it may not be the perfect film based on one of Donald E. Westlake’s novels nor is it Statham’s best action film so far, it does deliver in popcorn action that fans come to expect from a Statham film.
FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 118 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (For Strong Violence, Language Throughout and Brief Sexual Content/Nudity)
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Based on the Novel “Flashfire” by Richard Stark
Directed by Taylor Hackford
Screenplay by John J. McLaughlin
Produced by Les Alexander, Steve Chasman, Taylor Hackford, Sidney Kimmel, Jonathan Mitchell
Associate Producer: Tami Gunby, Brian Netto, David Shojai, Miles Tanter
Executive Producer: Stratton Leopold, Brad Luff, Peter Schlessel, Bruce Toll
Music by David Buckley
Cinematography by J. Michel Muro
Casting by Nancy Klopper
Production Design by Missy Stewart
Art Direction by Mara LePere-Schloop
Set Decoration by Maria Nay
Costume Design by Melissa Bruning
Jason Statham as Parker
Jennifer Lopez as Leslie Rodgers
Michael Chiklis as Melander
Wendell Pierce as Carlson
Clifton Collins Jr. as Ross
Bobby Cannavale as Jake Fernandez
Patti Lupone as Ascension
Carlos Carrasco as Norte
Michah A. Hauptman as August Hardwicke
Emma Booth as Claire
Nick Nolte as Hurley
Daniel Bernhardt as Kroll
Since the 1960’s, Donald E. Westlake (using the pseudonym Richard Stark) would create 24 novels featuring a relentless and remorseless professional thief known as Parker.
While the first novel “The Hunter” was adapted into the 1967 film “Point Blank” and later in 1999 for “Payback”, many of the novels would feature Parker who worked with other professionals to pull of a variety of heists, the books would feature the dangerous situations and the careful planning of Parker and others to pull of a heist, but also going after people who have tried to kill him including those who represent major crime syndicates.
In 2000, Richard Stark’s 19th novel “Flashfire” would receive a film adaptation by filmmaker Taylor Hackford (“The Devil’s Advocate”, “Ray”, “Proof of Life”) and a screenplay by John J. McLaughlin (“Black Swan”, “Man of the House”, “Hitchcock”).
The film would star Jason Statham (“The Transporter”, “Snatch”, “Crank”), Jennifer Lopez (“Main in Manhattan”, “Monster-in-Law”, “Out of Sight”), Michael Chicklis (“The Shield”, “The Commish”, “Fantastic Four” films), Emma Booth (“The Boys are Back”, “Blood Creek”, “Introducing the Dwights”), Nick Nolte (“The Thin Red Line”, “Warrior”, “Hulk”), Clifton Collins (“Star Trek”, “Mindhunters”), Bobby Cannavale (“Win Win”, “The Bone Collector”, “The Other Guys”) and Patti Lupone (“Driving Miss Daisy”, “Witness”, “City by the Sea”).
And now, the film will be released on Blu-ray in May 2013.
“Parker” begins with five individuals trying to pull major heist at a county fair. Led by Parker (portrayed by Jason Statham) in a priest uniform, he is joined by Melander (portrayed by Michael Chiklis), Carlson (portrayed by Wendell Pierce), Ross (portrayed by Clifton Collins Jr.) and Hardwicke (portrayed by Michah Hauptman). While Parker is a master thief, he does not like having hostages or anyone hurt, as long as they listen to him during a robbery. Unfortunately, during the carefully planned heist, Hardwicke ends up throwing dynamite near propane tanks and in the process, people are injured and one man is killed.
While the thieves were able to plan and steal the money, Melander and the guys try to get Parker involved in another robbery job in which they can earn millions. Parker is not willing to participate in another heist with the guys. And because they revealed their plans to him and he is not interested, the group try to kill him. While Parker tried to jump out of the car going 50 mph, he is hurt badly and Melander orders Hardwicke to kill Parker with a pistol. Hardwicke shoots him and throws him over a river embankment. And the group makes out with his cut of the money, while Parker lies dying in a river embankment.
But driving through the road is a country family who discover a barely living Parker and take him to the hospital. While the doctors save Parker’s life, Parker knowing that he may be the key suspect of what happened at the fair and escapes from the hospital, before he can be interviewed by the police.
And now Parker wants revenge. To find the men who tried to kill him but most importantly, the man responsible for authorizing them to kill him. With the help of his girlfriend Claire (portrayed by Emma Booth) and her father Hurley (portrayed by Nick Nolte) who helps organize a lot of these criminal activity, Parker knows he can count on them for their help. But because he is a targeted man, he knows the people targeting him will try to get him through the people most close to him. So, he asks both Hurley and Claire to leave town for a few days as trouble is ahead.
Word gets out among the four robbers that tried to kill Parker, that he is alive and is coming after them. Their boss decides to send a cold-blooded killer named Kroll (portrayed by Daniel Bernhardt) to kill Parker’s girlfriend but with quick thinking, she manages to escape just in the nick of time.
When Parker meets with Hurley and discuss the trouble that has taken place. Hurley warns Parker that the people he is up against may be too bad for him and to let it go and not get killed, especially his daughter Claire. Parker could care less about the money, it’s about the principle and no one double crosses him. Knowing that Parker is determined in getting revenge, they hatch a plan to get Parker into Florida using an alias as a oil magnate from Ecuador who will be purchasing a home in Palm Beach, but also where he can keep close eyes on the four men who tried to kill them as they are planning their heist in Palm Beach.
Meanwhile, in Palm Beach, is where Leslie Rodgers (portrayed by Jennifer Lopez) tries to make a living as a real-estate agent. Despite the luxurious lifestyle in the area, Leslie is not doing so well. She is struggling financially after her divorce, her car is about to be repossessed and in her 40’s, she is living with her mother (portrayed by Patti LuPone).
Needing money badly, Leslie steals a contact from one of the successful real estate agents at her office and when she goes to meet up with the new client, it is Parker going by a new name, Daniel Parmitt.
As Leslie tries to use her sex appeal to win over Parker, he is more focused on the job at hand and making sure his disguise will work. But when Leslie starts investigating Daniel Parmitt, she realizes there is no credit history or anything on him and she suspects something bad is going on.
While Daniel is able to find the location of where the four robbers are staying and doing reconnaissance of the area, when Parker returns back to his car, he is shocked to find Leslie waiting for him. Upset, he takes her and they head to her office. Not knowing if he will kill her, she tries to make a plea to him. She knows Palm Beach very well and she can help him with whatever he is doing, but all she wants is a cut.
As Parker tries to figure out if he can trust her, he agrees he needs some help in making his plans happen. So, he decides to bring Leslie in on the job as his plan is to let the four men continue with their heist, but then he intends to rob them back and kill them.
But will Parker’s plan work? Also, he is unaware that Kroll has also tracked him down to Palm Beach.
“Parker” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40: 1 aspect ratio). It’s important to note that the film didn’t have a high budget but for the most part, the film does have wonderful detail when it comes to closeups of the talent, outdoor scenes, especially in Palm Beach look vibrant and colorful. Black levels are nice and deep, I didn’t notice any softness and for the most part, skin tones look natural and picture quality looks very good.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As one can expect from an action-driven film, “Parker” shines with its lossless English 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. Great use of surround channels with scenes featuring large crowds, explosions are also heard via LFE and gun shots are crystal clear. But the fight scene between Parker and Kroll is where surround usage is used effectively. Dialogue is crystal clear and great use of ambiance for environments.
Subtitles are in English SDH, English and Spanish.
“Parker” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring an in-depth audio commentary with director Taylor Hackford.
- Bringing the Hunter to Life: The Making of Parker – (7:28) Adapting the novels for the big screen. How location played a big part for the film and gave the film its style. Working with the talent of the film.
- The Origin of Parker – (4:18) A Blu-ray exclusive. 24 Richard Stark Books based on the characters and what the man is all about. How Jason Statham played the character.
- Broken Necks and Bloody Ankles – (3:37) A Blu-ray exclusive. Wanting to capture the grittiness and realness for the film. Jason Statham did many of the stunts featured in the film along with Daniel Bernhardt.
- Who is Parker – (2:32) A featurette about Parker and what Donald Westbrook accomplished with his novels.
I’m sure that when one creates a film based on a well-known and beloved crime novel series, you need to find a director who is passionate about the subject and make film true to its roots. For filmmaker Taylor Hackford, there is no doubt that he was passionate about this film.
But with that being said, one’s passion and filmmaking ability can only go so far with the budget that you have to make the film. The good news for this film is that Jason Statham is an action star that can pull off “Parker” with amazing efficacy.
The problem lies within the story. For the most part, “Parker” is able to have its fair share of success and failures for several reasons.
The story of “Parker” definitely goes into details of a seasoned veteran when it comes to pulling off major heists. Based on the 19th novel in the series, perhaps the film could have explained Parker’s history much more, especially his relationship with Hurley and Claire. Claire has played a big part in the novels, but for “Parker”, her character is limited to a girlfriend who patches him up when he’s injured.
The acting for the film has its moments of ups but also its moments of downs, Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis and even the short time that Patti Lupone is in the film, all do a great job, but somehow with the acting and certain scenes that were chosen (such as the closing scene for the film), it made the film seem like a popcorn action B-movie, and with Statham and Lopez as your headlining talent, I suppose part of me was expect a popcorn action A-movie.
While the film is interesting as the protagonist, Parker, is a criminal with a moral code, yet won’t hesitate to killing people if they go against his code, the storyline is quite average. We know the man is bent on revenge after being shot and being left for dead. It’s just that you want more from the story than what you are actually getting.
Thus, we have Jennifer Lopez as Leslie, the other side of the coin to headliners in this film. A woman who is down on her luck, can’t make enough money and she is depressed about her life. Until she meets Parker. There is sexual chemistry with Parker and Leslie, but it was already established that Parker is a one-woman guy and his heart is for Claire. But the stupid decision made by Leslie and how she gets herself involved and into trouble is just so ridiculous. But I suppose that is something about money, some people will sacrifice their life for it. And Leslie is so down on her luck, she would put her self in the path of getting killed in order to make sure that Parker does his job right.
The pacing of the film also tries to give us flashbacks of Parker’s past. For what reason? Granted, this film is based on the 19th novel, while the first has been done before via Mel Gibson’s “Payback” but perhaps, if the director wanted us to know more about the past of Parker and how he met Claire, the film to kick things off with is how those two met and then this film become a sequel.
While I prefer a bit more suspense to the banal revenge film, you do get comedy, you do get to see Jennifer Lopez strip down to her bra and panties (and still looking as amazing as ever) and those who dig that and the action sequences (which are fantastic, especially the fight between Parker and Kroll), you’re left with a good popcorn action film.
But I suppose that with Statham films, you want to see kick-ass action, you want to see great fight choreography and the storyline tries to support it. But based on Donald E. Westlake’s (via his pseudonym Richard Stark) well-known novel series, there is too much story about Parker that has yet to be told.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good, lossless soundtrack is fantastic and you also get five special features, two which are exclusive on Blu-ray.
Overall, “Parker” is a Jason Statham film that does lives up to its action and gritty storyline. While it may not be the perfect film based on one of Donald E. Westlake’s novels nor is it Statham’s best action film so far, it does deliver in popcorn action that fans come to expect from a Statham film.
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