"I don't steal from anyone who can't afford it, and I don't hurt anyone who doesn't deserve it."
The title of the film is based on the main character who is a thief with a set of moral codes which he never breaks. Oddly enough, Parker resembles every other Jason Statham character played on film, more than the character he was based on in Donald E. Westlake's novel "Flashfire." If you aren't familiar with the novel, you might be familiar with the 1999 revenge film, Payback, starring Mel Gibson. Despite not being called Parker in that film, Mel's character is supposed to be the same one played here by Statham. If you've seen both movies you will discover that they are completely different, so fans of Westlake's novels featuring Parker might be disappointed if they expect to experience that action hero, because all they will find is another Statham movie. I don't have a problem with Statham, I think he has great charisma on screen and has made some good films, but his act is wearing out if he doesn't try something new. This is the kind of film that he can make with his eyes closed considering he doesn't have as much fighting scenes as he usually does. The same could be said for director, Taylor Hackford, who has made some really strong films in the past like Ray and The Devil's Advocate, but this one is simply another generic and predictable heist film. John L. McLaughlin adapted the novel and this is also one of his weakest efforts considering he has written strong screenplays before (Black Swan and Hitchcock). This film didn't bring anything new to a genre we've seen played out a million times before in even straight to DVD movies. I could probably come up with a list of dozens of other revenge heist films that stand above this one. Parker was simply too generic and poorly executed with a character playing a thief with a strong moral code (which really never seems believable).
Parker (Jason Statham) is working on his next heist after his long time partner, and now father-in-law, Hurley (Nick Nolte) recommends him and introduces him to four other thieves for an apparently easy heist: Melander (Michael Chiklis), Carlson (Wendell Pierce), Ross (Clifton Collins Jr.), and August (Micah Hauptman) who has close connections with the mafia in Chicago. After the heist the five thieves easily escape with the money, but instead of splitting the 200,000 they had all agreed on, Melander asks Parker and the rest of the gang to invest it in another heist in which they could all walk out of with a couple million dollars each. When Parker doesn't agree and asks for his share of the money, the rest of the members of the team shoot and leave him for dead. Parker survives and sets out to get back at these men because he believes in his set of ethical codes and they have broken it. It is not just about the money anymore, and he doesn't care how connected these men are with the mafia, he is out to set things right. After learning about their whereabouts in West Palm Beach he takes on a new identity and hires a real estate agent, Leslie Rodgers (Jennifer Lopez), as an excuse to look around and find these men. The only problem is that they know Parker is still alive and have set the mafia after him as well.
Parker is supposed to be an anti-hero, but it really doesn't play out like that in this movie. I couldn't identify with him and never found his set of moral codes really believable. Statham has charisma, but it just didn't play out that well with his character Parker. This felt like just another heist film where the audience is sort of forced to pull for the bad guy simply because he has a good heart. He only kills people when they don't do what they are told, he only steals from rich people, etc. He simply doesn't pull it off here and I couldn't root for his character. The film tries so hard to justify his actions in such a way that it never feels authentic. I also found Jennifer Lopez's role pretty pointless. Her character doesn't bring anything to this story and at times her life feels like a soap opera. Nick Nolte's character is another one that is completely pointless and misused. There were so many pointless things going on in this movie that could've been left out. The longer the film played out the more and more I disliked it. There are no thrills, the love triangle is hardly developed, and not even Statham's classic action scenes save this movie. Parker is simply too formulaic and very forgettable.