You Must Remember This

You Must Remember This

Monday, 18 March 2013


A Saturday night trip to the movies with a mate, I've learned, doesn't have to be to see an award worthy prestige pic (like The Master should have been at this years' Oscars) or the newest high-profile Hollywood blockbuster (as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey proved simply to be). It can also be to see an unremarkable action flick, the type of movie that doesn't push the envelope, that usually receives two and a half to three stars in Empire Magazine, as was the case with Parker: entertaining but ultimately forgettable.

This isn't the first time that Parker's appeared in screen, though. Based on a long-running book series by Donald E. Westlake, the definitive incarnation of the monomynous hero was arguably Lee Marvin in the 1967 thriller Point Blank, which sees Marvin's "Walker" shot and left for dead by his criminal partner, only to rise up and seek revenge. Parker's judgement of character evidently hasn't improved with time: Parker follows much the same plot, though it exchanges the fatalistic, pseudo-mythical, film noir vogue of John Boorman's film for something a little less high-minded.

Parker, as played by genre stalwart Jason Statham, is the archetypal conscientious thief, though the characterization hardly walks the dangerous edge of things. His first scene shows him disguised as a priest - white wig, dog collar - as part of a hold-up at the Ohio State Fair, but pausing to win a little girl a stuffed animal at a game of balloon pop. Parker has a code: he always does what he says he's going to do and expects other to do the same. So, when his one-time colleagues drawn down on him in the back of a moving van, he reacts accordingly.

Parker's vengeance takes him all the way to Florida, where the gang is planning their next job, and forces him to seek the help of a down-on-her-luck real estate agent, an ageing-remarkably-well Jennifer Lopez. Any chemistry between them, however, is thwarted by Parker's loyal girlfriend, whose dad, the absurdly gravelly Nick Nolte, is a long-time friend and ally. Parker has also managed to piss off the East Coast mob, who send a vicious hitman to deal with him. Things play out entertainingly enough, but with no particular flair or originality.

Statham is a credible action hero: he has a certain rough-around-the-edges, masculine charm - the role is hardly a stretch for him, though. The Shield's Michael Chiklis and The Wire's Wendell Pierce are the two most memorable members of the pursued, though there not given much by the way of distinguishing features or, indeed, anything to do. The whole plot smacks of Elmore Leonard, but it lacks the edge or charm to truly set it apart from the fodder.

The tonal shifts can also be a bit abrupt, leaping from easy humor to brutal violence, and the whole thing runs out of steam sometime before the final shootout (for more on shootouts, specifically how to "earn" them as a film and what to do with one when you have it, look for my review of Welcome to the Punch, which should be up shortly.)

Verdict: Meh. Despite a promising opening and a committed Statham, you get the stuff that Parker know it's lower common denominator stuff. Worth a look if it's a quiet evening and there's nothing else on, or perhaps after a couple of pints, but nothing really to add the DVD collection. Not great, not terrible, just so-so. **1/4

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