R (strong violence, strong language, brief sexual content/nudity); 118 min.
Based on a novel in a series by Richard Stark, the alter ego of the late, great Donald E. Westlake, Parker is basically a heist-and-payback movie. But it's made with such skill and smarts that it stands above such eye-rolling blow-'em-up fare as Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand, its main competition at the box office.
As played by the ever-stoic Jason Statham, Parker is more antihero than hero: He operates on the wrong side of the law, but he's got a complicated code of ethics.
He will steal, but only from people who can afford it, he says. If you stumble into one of the many crimes he commits, he won't hurt you as long as you do exactly what he tells you to do.
In the opening scenes of Parker, a crew carries out a daring robbery at the Ohio State Fair. The heist does not run smoothly and after their escape, the second in command, Melander (Michael Chiklis), demands that Parker turn over his share of the profits to finance the next job. "It's the score of a lifetime," he tells Parker.
Like any sensible individual who hears those words, Parker is skeptical. So he refuses and gets shot, robbed and dumped on the side of the road for his trouble.
The rest of the movie follows what happens when Parker recovers and decides to get his money back from -- and revenge on -- the guys who left him for dead.
Statham, not always the most charismatic of actors, turns out to be a good choice to play the taciturn thief. He looks like the sort of guy who stands a good chance of getting out of any tight corner, even if his assailant is armed and he's not. Even the people who griped about Tom Cruise being cast as the towering Jack Reacher will have to admit Statham fits nicely in Parker's shoes.
-- Connie Ogle, Miami Herald