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Your Toronto 2014 Issue Navigator

How the candidates compare on some of the city's biggest issues.

Parker

A boilerplate beat-'em-up, hopelessly bungled.

DIRECTED BY TAYLOR HACKFORD
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In addition to capably battering bad guys with his fists, feet, and sundry blunt objects, Jason Statham has repeatedly demonstrated his action chops behind the wheel. At no point, however, did his roles in The Transporter or Death Race require him to roll sedately through a Florida resort community with a chatty realtor riding shotgun. Presumably, that’s because the makers of those films realized that such a digression would be a singular misuse of Statham’s tough guy talents, as well as a surefire means to kill any movie’s momentum. Not so the folks behind Parker.

After a setup that sees Statham’s titular antihero swear vengeance against his double-crossing partners in crime, Parker’s entire second act is an inane detour, needlessly detailing his bid to pinpoint his former co-conspirators’ upscale beachfront hideout. He’s aided in his efforts by a plucky estate agent played by Jennifer Lopez—a pairing no doubt intended to expand the film’s appeal beyond the beat-‘em-up crowd, and one that rather damningly recalls J. Lo’s turn opposite George Clooney in Out of Sight.

Steven Soderbergh’s 1998 hit was also a Florida-set heist flick, but, apart from Lopez’s mutual participation, that’s where the similarities end. The contrasts, meanwhile, are myriad. Never mind that it fails to match the former film’s style, substance, or wit—Parker is the sort of misfire that routinely falls shy of basic coherence.

And as for replicating the sizzle shared by Lopez and Clooney? Inexplicably, having sidetracked Statham from his standard-issue badassery to saddle him with a fetching sidekick, Parker nips any romantic possibilities in the bud: Statham’s honour-bound crook arrives pre-committed to a separate, woefully underwritten love interest. It’s the sort of self-defeating bungle that aptly sums up this fundamentally half-baked affair.

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