Tough guy Jason Statham stars in his latest action-thriller Parker, in which he seeks revenge on his former partners-in-crime. Although filled with decent action, Parker is a typical lackluster January-release movie with a messy plot and underdeveloped characters.

Statham stars in the title role as Parker, an surprisingly intelligent crook with twists and lives by his ethical motto, “I don’t steal from anyone who can’t afford it, and I don’t hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.” At the beginning of the film, Parker and his four associates steal about $1 million at the Ohio State Fair. Their scheme is successful, but only after an unplanned mishap that leaves Parker less than pleased with one of his fellow crooks. After stealing the money, Parker is invited to participate in another robbery – this time, they’re going after a slew of jewels that are worth over $50 million. When Parker declines the invitation, the four boys decide the only option is to kill Parker so they don’t get turned in. Although Parker was shot, he survives, and with the help of his mentor/girlfriend’s dad (Nick Nolte, with a voice as gruff as ever), eventually follows his former partners-in-crime to Palm Beach, Florida to ruin their plans.

The most exciting parts of the 119-minute film are the first twenty and the last thirty minutes. Watching the introductory robbery and seeing how the final, big robbery play out is rather intense, but the entire (and rather long) second third of the film is rather slow and messy. With basically no character development and a rather pointless and overdone rising action, director Taylor Hackford (Ray) could have easily made the decision to cut Parker by about thirty minutes to make it twice as good.

Jennifer Lopez also stars in the film as a broke Palm Beach real estate agent who needs the extra cash to fix her car payments and pay off debts from a divorce. She gets a considerable amount of screen time, but in the end, doesn’t do an incredible amount to enhance the plot other than ruining Parker’s plans, being a pretty face on the movie screen, and giving a few funny lines, penned by Black Swan writer John J. McLaughlin. Statham’s character rightfully has the most depth, and Statham pulls off the performance better than  anticipated – when he’s not punching or shooting someone or managing to get himself incredibly bloody. His four fellow crooks-turned-enemies are poorly written and all basically the same character, and left me basically lumping them together as the same person.

Adapted from Richard Stark’s novel FlashfireParker is an exciting film to watch if all you’re seeking is two hours of fighting, shooting, a lot of blood, and Statham’s wonderful English accent. Other than that, it’s a lackluster film with very underdeveloped characters and a boring rising action and very predictable ending.

Grade: D+

Rated: R (for strong violence, language throughout and brief sexual content/nudity)

Parker opens in theaters on January 25, 2013.

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