Does anyone in Hollywood have a better job than Jason Statham? Sure, there are superior actors out there. Sure, there are more bankable stars out there. But no one gets to play bad asses as consistently as Statham does. He’s one of the last real action stars left in Hollywood. His movies are visceral, brutal, and charmingly stupid. Statham’s great, his movies are great. Parker, Statham’s latest movie, also looked great, but then Jennifer Lopez had to come in and ruin it.
This time around Jason Statham steps into the shoes of a savvy robber named Parker, the main protagonist of a series of books written by Donald E. Westlake. Lee Marvin played a variation of the character in Point Blank (1967) and Mel Gibson played a version of the character in Payback. Now Statham gets the opportunity to place his stamp on the role, and of course, he turns Parker into another indestructible brawler.
It works. The first hour of Parker is vintage Statham: he robs a state fair with the assistance of four career criminals—played by Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins Jr., and Bobby Cannavale—and they make off with a million dollars in cash. Things, however, take a nasty turn when it comes time for the crew to divide the money. The team’s ringleader (Chiklis) decides that the group should reinvest the proceeds of their robbery into a jewelry heist. Parker disagrees. They decide to kill Parker and throw him from a moving vehicle. He disagrees…with his fists. They prevail, though, and Parker is left bloody and laying in a ditch.
But Parker isn’t going to take that shit lying down. As soon as he regains consciousness, he tears his way through the criminal underworld in search of the guys who betrayed him and left him for dead. Again, this is all classic R-rated Statham. It’s bloody, it’s stupid, it’s fun. But then something truly awful happens: Jennifer Lopez shows up.
Yes, unfortunately, the second half of Parker is just as much a Jennifer Lopez movie as it is a Jason Statham movie. She shares the same lack of range as Statham, but whereas Statham can’t play anything other than a bad ass, Lopez can’t play anything other than a self absorbed, miserable cunt. With the exception of her breakout role in Selena, Lopez has always been the Latina Jennifer Aniston, and that’s exactly what she continues to do here. And the film itself warps and twists itself to accommodate her shitty style of acting.
Lopez plays Leslie Rodgers, a divorced, down-on-her-luck, plucky real estate agent living in West Palm Beach, Florida. Pushing forty, she lives at home with her soap-opera-addicted mother and her cute dog. Her chief rival at work is a conceited, perky little blonde girl who somehow makes all of the sales. If she doesn’t earn a commission, her car will be repossessed. Then Parker shows up—on the trail of his former accomplices—sporting a ten gallon hat, and a terribly fake Texas accent. He asks for her to take him house shopping.
It’s just utterly baffling: here we have Statham starring in an R-rated action movie based on a character made famous by Lee Marvin, and yet somehow Jennifer Lopez infests the movie with one of her standard, shitty rom com characters. Lopez and Statham have absolutely no chemistry together and they both act is if they’re starring in two entirely separate movies.
Part of this is the fault of the utterly schizophrenic screenplay which plays like a mash-up of Crank and Maid in Manhattan. But a lot of fault lays with the casting of Jennifer Lopez in the secondary role. Lopez always plays plucky, feminist underdogs, and to make things worse, she’s a spoiled, conceited bitch in real life. Typically, I find that I can look pass the personal failings of any given actor, but the stories of Lopez’ legendary cuntiness are so omnipresent that I can’t here. Jennifer Lopez is a horrible human being and a worse actress. Every time I watch her play yet another impoverished yet empowered woman looking for that special man, my vision turns red.
And my vision remained scarlet for much of the second half of Parker. Following an explosive first act, Parker grinds to a halt under the weight of Lopez’ grating screen persona. The movie plays like an awful romantic comedy from the ‘90s, but punctuated with Statham throwing someone from a balcony or jamming a large knife into a goon’s windpipe. The sheer craziness of it would have been amazing if not for the fact that Jennifer Lopez ruins everything she touches.
In the end, Statham just sort of disappears from his own movie. He’s not a great actor, but he’s likable and he has an abundance of charisma. Lopez, however, is just a festering black hole of talentlessness that consumes the entire production. The only way Parker could have turned out any worse is if Jennifer Aniston had been cast as the co-star. Skip this one.