Saturday, 22 February 2014

Parker; The Stath wears a wig

Parker is a Jason Statham movie through and through, with the only surprising element being the grey toupee he wears for the first few scenes. Other than that, the checklist is wonderfully complete; there’s an avuncular older guy who’s got his back, there’s unreliable villains who excite his irritation and need to get got, there’s a chick to be rescued, there’s a bunch of bone crunching set pieces where the Stath uses the scenery to pulverise the ungodly, and there’s the Stath implacably wisecracking his way through all the obstacles.

Surprisingly, it’s also a very respectful adaptation of the Richard Stark book that it’s based on. In the past, adaptations of Stark have tended to focus on the implacable revenge bits of the books, and they’ve missed out on an important part of the books; as Parker rolled from one disaster to the next, the principal variety in the books was the cast of new characters for him to rescue or be let down by. Unlike any other adaptation I’ve seen, Parker doesn’t just show us the awful villains who Parker is about to crush, but also the semi-decent people who Parker absent-mindedly helps along the way. Jennifer Lopez might not have been the best choice for the down on her luck estate agent who becomes Parker’s temporary ally, but she does OK, and the movie takes the time to show us a character so fenced in that Parker’s looking like a good option when he rolls into town with the world’s least plausible Texan impersonation.

Stark needed to flesh out his supporting cast because he’d intentionally made his main character a cipher. The Stath is inspired casting for a cipher, because the Stath isn’t really acting. Parker in this movie is just like his character in The Transporter, less the car. He be doing crimes, but he has standards. Rules. Not quite ethics, because, after all, he’s taking things that don’t belong to him and without all that much thought to whether the holiday maker whose car he just stole for a getaway might have needed that car to get home, for example. And that, as they say, is even before you consider his propensity for straight up murdering folks he doesn’t cotton to. It’s a persona which the Stath has got down pat, and why mess with it?

About as far as he needs to go is put on a wig. Or an accent, though never both at once, because that would be way too method.

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