Parker (2013 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Taylor Hackford|
|Screenplay by||John J. McLaughlin|
by Donald E. Westlake
|Music by||David Buckley|
|Cinematography||J. Michael Muro|
|Edited by||Mark Warner|
|Box office||$46.2 million|
Parker is a 2013 American action thriller film directed by Taylor Hackford and written by John J. McLaughlin. Starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, the film is adapted from Flashfire, the 19th Parker novel, written by Donald Westlake under the pen name Richard Stark.
Primarily set in Palm Beach, Florida, the film revolves around professional thief Parker (Statham), who is double-crossed by his crew. He sets out for revenge on them, helped by a real-estate agent (Lopez) in a quest to steal what his former accomplices intend to rob at a jewelry heist. Parker marked a departure for Hackford, who hoped to make it his first film noir. The film, produced on a $35 million budget, was conceived following Westlake's 2008 death, when producer Les Alexander secured the rights to it.
It premiered in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 24, 2013, and was released in the United States on January 25. Reviews were generally mixed, with many critics feeling that it was a poor adaptation of the book, and typical of Statham's sub-par action films of the past few years. Others found Statham well-fitted for the role of Parker and praised Lopez for providing comedic relief. It grossed $46 million worldwide at the box office.
Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional thief, specializing in big robberies, who follows a unique code—he doesn't steal from the poor or hurt innocent people. His mentor Hurley (Nick Nolte) asks him to take charge of a job with a crew he doesn't know, consisting of Melander (Michael Chiklis), Carlson (Wendell Pierce), Ross (Clifton Collins Jr.), and Hardwicke (Micah Hauptman). The job, taking the gate money from the Ohio State Fair, is successful, but Hardwicke ignored instructions, resulting in him needlessly killing a woman in a fire that was set as a distraction.
Parker, disgusted with the crew's unprofessional standards, refuses to participate in another robbery that could net them millions. Needing his share of the Ohio loot to finance the bigger job, Melander's crew decides to shoot Parker and leave him to die alongside a road. Having barely survived, Parker is found by a family of tomato farmers who take him to the hospital, where he subdues a male nurse, steals his uniform, and escapes. He then robs a check-cashing store, shooting the proprietor in the leg, ties up both the proprietor and his employee, gagging them with duct tape, then steals a woman's car.
Parker tells Hurley he wants to go after the double-crossing Melander, who has gone to Palm Beach, Florida for another heist. Upon learning that Parker is alive, the crew uses mob connections to hire a hitman named Kroll (Daniel Bernhardt). Kroll tries to kidnap Parker's girlfriend Claire (Emma Booth), who is Hurley's daughter. She narrowly escapes and goes into hiding. Hurley is worried and suggests Parker run away with her, but Parker is completely intent on revenge.
In Palm Beach, Parker poses as a wealthy Texan named Daniel Parmitt, looking for a place to live. Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez) is a depressed, unsuccessful real-estate agent living with her mother (Patti LuPone), struggling financially after a divorce. She is thrilled when Parker (as Parmitt) appears to become interested in her properties because she is desperate for a commission.
Leslie becomes suspicious when Parker only shows interest in a house that a man named Rodrigo recently purchased and is remodelling. In reality, Rodrigo is Melander, who is staying in the house with the crew in anticipation of a $50 million jewelry auction they plan to rob. Parker returns to the house to plant his guns, find their weapons and disable the firing pins.
Leslie finds out that Parker is using a fake identity. She offers her local knowledge in exchange for a commission of the robbery. He considers it only after making Leslie strip to show she isn't wearing a wire. Together, they plan to steal the jewels from Melander after he robs them from the auction. Leslie makes a pass at Parker, but he remains distant, though obviously attracted to her.
Melander's crew disguise themselves as delivery men. Meanwhile, Kroll learns that Parker is in Palm Beach, and he attempts to kill him. After a bloody-savage fight, Kroll stabs Parker through the hand, but ends up falling to his death from Parker's hotel balcony.
The next morning, Palm Beach Sheriff's Deputy Jake Fernandez (Bobby Cannavale) arrives with questions for Leslie after learning that she was in business with Daniel Parmitt. She is shocked when she discovers a bloody Parker hiding in her house with her mother's permission. At her workplace, Leslie is horrified when she watches a video of Kroll's death online, which was filmed by local onlookers. At Parker's request, she contacts Claire, who comes to stitch up his wounds. Their subsequent encounter makes it clear to Leslie that Claire is the woman in his life.
The crew successfully steals the jewels. They swim back to the house, where a weak and injured Parker is waiting to ambush them. Worried that Parker might need help, Leslie begins snooping around the garden. She is found and taken inside, where the crew abuse and question her, assuming she and Parker are working together. Ross goes outside where he is stabbed in the neck to death by Parker. Melander's other men begin to panic.
Melander finds Parker and a fight ensues. Carlson starts to molest Leslie, but she shoots him with a gun she noticed under the table that Parker had planted. Parker, in spite of his wounds, is able to kill Melander. All members of the crew end up dead. Parker and Leslie arrange for the jewels to be hidden and for her to be sent her cut. They part ways, Parker showing some regret as she leaves.
Six months later, Parker goes to Chicago and kills the syndicate boss who hired Kroll to kill him. One year later, Leslie receives two hefty boxes in the mail containing several million dollars. The tomato farmers who saved Parker's life are shown talking to somebody about how they somehow got a great deal of money that has changed their lives. They credit the stranger, thinking he must have been an angel sent to test them.
- Jason Statham as Parker/Daniel Parmitt
- 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
- Micah Hauptman as August Hardwicke
- Emma Booth as Claire
- Nick Nolte as Hurley
- Daniel Bernhardt as Kroll
- Dax Riggs as Himself
- Billy Slaughter as Ohio State Fair Security Guard Ben
Prior to this film, Parker had first appeared decades earlier in the 1962 novel The Hunter, written by Donald E. Westlake, which spawned into a book series that included over twenty other novels. He had also been depicted in several films including Point Blank (1967) and Payback (1999), among others. Despite these films, Westlake always refused to let any of them use the character's name, saying he'd only allow that if they'd agree to adapt all the novels. In 2008, following Westlake's death, his wife Abby, having been contacted by Les Alexander, a television producer who was a longtime acquaintance of Westlake's, agreed to sell the rights to one Parker novel (including the right to use Parker's name), with the option of several more being adapted later if the first film was successful. Alexander hired a friend of his named John McLaughlin to write the screenplay for Parker, and then director Taylor Hackford became involved. When the film opened, Taylor Hackford said in an interview that he didn't think Westlake would have agreed to let Parker's name be used under these circumstances.
Hackford directed the film, and Steven Chasman, Hackford, Alexander, Sidney Kimmel, and Jonathan Mitchell produced. Hackford was excited to make Parker his "first sort of film noir", stating: "I don't want to get stuck in a genre. What I like the most about this piece of material is that you can take a genre piece like this and turn it into a great movie." Speaking with Palm Beach Daily News about what led him to Parker, Hackford stated "I’m a fan of Donald Westlake. I really think he’s a fabulous writer … very unique in the area of crime because his Parker series". Hackford was attracted to Parker because he was a "strange character" and "sociopath" who, at the same time, isn't a sociopath, describing him as "compelling".
Pre-production and casting
On April 18, 2011, Justin Kroll of Variety reported that Statham would play the role of Parker. Of Parker, Statham has commented that he's "a man who lives by a certain moral code. ... So there’s a likeable quality to this anti-hero." The actor noted that: "He’s involved in criminal activities but he perceives all business to be in some way crooked. He never steals from people who can’t afford it and he doesn’t hurt people that don’t deserve it", describing Parker as an "anti-hero". During the film, Parker is seen posing as a priest and a wealthy Texan named Daniel Parmitt from San Antonio, Texas.
On June 21, 2011, it was revealed that Lopez was in talks to play "the female lead, a character named Leslie, who gets involved with Parker as he executes a heist". Lopez's casting was confirmed, along with Nick Nolte, who played Parker's mentor. Lopez and Nolte previously worked together on the film U Turn (1997). Hackford noted the role of Leslie as a departure from her other work, considering she has been acting in romantic comedies for the last several years. Leslie is a "savvy insider" who's "short on cash, but big on looks, smarts and ambition." Initially, she only partners with Parker for her own financial gain, but eventually becomes romantically involved with Parker. Owen Tonks of Daily Mail noted that "The couple's relationship grows stronger and Leslie falls for Parker as the storyline develops". Additionally, Tonks noted that Leslie is "likely to be completely different" from Lopez's true personality. Wendell Pierce, Clifton Collins Jr., Michael Chiklis, Patti LuPone, and Emma Booth also co-starred in Parker. In the novel Flashfire, Leslie wasn't of Cuban descent. However, Hackford cast Lopez in the role and decided to re-write her as Cuban, hiring Italian-American LuPone to play her "domineering" mother.
According to executive producer Nick Meyer, Parker was produced on a "mid-30s" budget range, which he described as "pretty good", "given the caliber of the movie". The Times-Picayune's Mike Scott reported on June 23, 2011 that Parker would film in New Orleans for seven weeks starting July 18. Scott noted that filming in New Orleans was "good news" for the local film industry because it came "at a time that has historically seen a slowdown in major productions, due both to the oppressive heat and the arrival of hurricane season." Playbill later confirmed that production for the film had begun on August 4, 2011, in New Orleans. Filming briefly moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana from August 5–9.
Parker was also filmed in Palm Beach, Florida, where Lopez and Statham were spotted that September. In an interview with the town's local newspaper, Hackford said: "Palm Beach is a fascinating area. You’ve got this incredibly rich, exclusive enclave and right across the bridge you’ve got real life. And I was depicting both". According to Robert Janjigian of the Palm Beach Daily News, Palm Beach were "star-struck" and "ready for its close-up" during filming. Variety noted that locals were also "shook up" by helicopters, firetrucks and marine patrol boats, "bringing big-time filmmaking to an area better known for leisure-time activities." Cinematographer J. Michael Muro shot the film with Red Epic digital cameras and Hawk V-Lite anamorphic lenses.
Statham, who is a former diver for the British Olympic Team, performed all of Parker's stunts in the film. In one scene, Statham jumped out of the window of a fast-moving car for his character to escape being shot; this stunt was considered "really dangerous" and Hackford said he was "nervous when he went out that window" five or six times before the scene was finished. In another scene, Statham had to hang off a building's balcony. The actor said he took a "real beating" from these scenes. He credited this to wearing a wire, which got in the way of filming and made things feel "restricted", because they ripped up his arms. In January 2012, filming for Parker concluded in Miami and also in Columbus,Ohio.
Originally, Parker was set to be released on October 12, 2012. However, the release date was moved back due to strong competition it would have faced at the box office from other films released around that time including Gangster Squad and Here Comes the Boom; the former of which later had its release date moved to January due to the 2012 Aurora shooting. Matt Goldberg of the website Collider noted that it would have probably lost to these films if it had been released that October. Boxoffice listed the pros of the film release, which were Statham's "consistent" performance at the box office and Lopez's appearance which "could help the film expand a bit beyond Statham's usual audience". It also listed the cons, which are Lopez's presence that might "turn off some of Statham's usual audience" as well as heavy competition from multiple other films.
The film's first promotional poster was unveiled on October 1, 2012. Its theatrical trailer was released on October 4, 2012. Collider commented that despite this being a slightly different film than what Statham is known for, the trailer "still has its share of clichés". Joblo's Paul Shirley said "It's got a lot of the usual Statham action goodies", but with "source material and stellar cast" it has potential to be a theatrical hit. Simon Reynolds of Digital Spy noted the pairing of "tough guy" Statham and "global superstar" Lopez to be "unlikely" but said Parker promises to "serve up some meaty action thrills". On January 3, 2013, Digital Spy unveiled another promotional poster for Parker.
Parker was released in 2,224 U.S. theaters on January 25, 2013, grossing slightly over $7 million and opening at number five at the box office. This was two million shy of what it was predicted to earn prior, and the film was considered a box office bomb. By the end of its 70-day North American release, Parker had grossed $17.6 million at the box office, placing it at the low end of Statham's wide release crime/action vehicles. It finished in 118th place on the 2013 domestic release box office chart. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD in the United States on May 21, 2013. It was not one of the Top 100 selling DVDs of 2013, grossing a total of $11,274,235 on DVD and Blu-ray.
The studio required critics attending press screenings to sign an agreement that none of their reviews would appear in print before the film opened. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 40% based on 106 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Jason Statham is game as usual, but Parker is a thoroughly generic and convoluted heist movie." Metacritic gave the film a score of 42 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
John Semley of Slant Magazine was not receptive to Parker, panning its "painfully slapdash script", although the Miami Herald's Connie Ogle felt that while it was a "stretch" with "absurdities", Statham "turns out to be a good choice to play the taciturn thief." Christy Lemire, film critic for the Associated Press, felt that Statham is "not exactly pushing himself outside his comfort zone", and Lopez is "here to provide some comic relief as the wide-eyed fish out of water." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap called the film a "bore" considering Statham's potential as an action star, and Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal was also negative, saying that the film set a "tin standard" for crime thrillers.
Variety's Brian Lowry praised Hackford for fashioning the "50-year-old franchise into a neat-fitting outfit for Statham" which was "crisp and efficient", noting its use of Lopez to "good effect." While reviewing Lopez's performance, several critics drew comparisons to the 1998 film Out of Sight in which Lopez starred opposite George Clooney 15 years earlier. Stephen Farber of The Hollywood Reporter said the film's "biggest surprise" is Lopez's performance, in which she "downplays her glamorous image to give a refreshingly low-key portrayal of a put-upon, financially strapped working woman who manages to be useful to Parker when he least expects it." Additionally, Farber praised Statham as making a "convincingly bruised protagonist." A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave Parker a positive review, enjoying Lopez's "exercising her talent for damsel-in-distress silliness" and said, "And if Parker is, in the end, business as usual, it is also a pretty good deal." Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times positively reviewed the film, calling it a "faithful adaption" of Flashfire, although film reviewer James Berardinelli was displeased with the lack of character development for Leslie, criticizing the heavy amount of screen-time dedicated to Parker's girlfriend Claire (Emma Booth). Nonetheless, Berardinelli gave Parker a generally positive review, summarizing its action scenes as "crisply directed, brutal, and invigorating."
Other critics panned Parker and its action sequences to be predictable and generic. Writing for The A.V. Club, Josh Modell said the film's beginning was "fairly strong", although the action "gets more predictable as it meanders toward its conclusion." Peter Howell of the Toronto Star said the film started off "promisingly" but ended "predictable", while the Montreal Gazette's Bill Brownstein panned the film by stating, "Much gunplay and bloodletting ensues. The body count is high. Intrigue is low." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly's review was along the same lines, calling it "unremarkably generic" and "insanely bloody."
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