Observations on Taylor Hackford and “Parker”

Taylor Hackford was the guy who, 30 years, ago, brought us “An Officer and a Gentleman,” that movie with Richard Gere as a Navy runt (Early scenes even have him wandering around Subic) and Debra Winger as a townie factory girl, and Louis Gossett, Jr. as a marine drill sergeant.

30 years later, Hackford is directing Jason Statham in an action movie.  Wow!  That shows real flexibility and directorial chops.  Self is not being ironic.  Self really does think Hackford is a very good director.

Before watching “Parker” today with The Man, self was not all that enthused about seeing it —  largely because of a review in Pajiba that basically made it sound like the same old Jason Statham shtick.  Like a recycled Transporter.

The Man chose “Parker” over “Les Miserables,” however, and self does tend to go along with his movie choices, as he has much less free time to see movies than self.

So, having seen the movie, here are some points self wishes to make:

  • You will not see this movie if you are turned off by screen violence.
  • You will not see this movie if you do not like Jason Statham.
  • You might see this movie if you like J Lo.

Further observations:

Self did not find Jason Statham as priest (Parker’s first iteration) in the least ridiculous.  In fact, he looked like a believable priest, in self’s humble opinion.  Except for the fact that when he throws darts, he never misses (He’s at the Ohio State Fair; he helps a little girl so that she can win a stuffed toy)

In addition, Taylor Hackford deserves audience’s utmost gratitude for showing that J Lo can play a ditzy Palm Springs real estate agent with money problems (Her car is about to be repossessed and as a brand-new real estate agent she hasn’t yet landed a commission) better than a real Palm Springs real estate agent with money problems.  From her disappointed pout when Parker’s girlfriend materializes, and her outfits (J Lo minces around in tacky, super-tight neon-colored suits and white pumps (Watch her stakeout a bad guy’s house —  Bad Guy’s Name is Rodriguez, how very “Bad-Guy-Sounding,” BWAH HA HA! — in high-heeled white pumps and the tightest pencil skirt this side of “Justified”!  Oh, self almost forgot :  the skirt is silk, with a pattern of big flowers), she is funny and, best of all, convincing playing a regular person!  One who doesn’t get the guy!  But who manages to swallow her disappointment with good grace!

It’s so violent, it’s almost like a B movie.  While watching, self found herself comparing the level of violence to, say, something like “Silence of the Lambs.”  It is not on that same level of gross.  At least, the villains here do not express desire to cook their victims with Fava beans.

The screenplay was surprisingly deft.  Even the minor characters —  Michael Chiklis and his gang; Nick Nolte as Parker’s father figure; Parker’s girlfriend (a very pale blonde, with a kind of Mia Wasikowska thing going); a document forger; J Lo’s mom; J Lo’s fellow realtors, even J Lo’s mom’s pet dog —  have definition.  There’s even a minor riff involving the aforementioned wee dog that reminded self of —  gasp! —  “There’s Something About Mary!”

Self loved this dialogue:

Three bad guys tied up on the floor in the document forger’s office.  Parker hands the forger a gun and tells him to shoot them.  When the forger balks, Parker says:  “If I have to shoot them I will.  But I’ll shoot you next.”  So the forger grabs the gun and obliges.  Then Parker tells him, “Shoot them again.”  And the forger protests, “But they’re dead!”  Parker’s response:  “Then they won’t feel anything!  Shoot them again!”

From the above,  dear blog readers will conclude that self has quite a high tolerance for movie violence.  Are you kidding?  Self saw the Indonesian movie “The Raid:  Redemption” last year, and gave it five stars!  She loved “Django Unchained!”  About the only cinema violence can’t stand is when it’s directed at women — those “Kill Bill” movies made her squirm.  Also, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.”  Also, “The Last House on the Left.”

So, “Parker”:  self loved it.  It made her sad to learn, however, from the closing credits, that Donald E. Westlake, who wrote the Parker books, was no more.  She loved Donald E. Westlake!  His Money for Nothing had her in stitches!  It’s the story of a man who, for seven years, receives monthly checks of $1,000.  The man is so happy about the situation that he decides not to pry into the reason for the checks. (And you and self would probably do the same, right, dear blog readers?)  Lo and behold, at the end of the seven years, a stranger appears and demands that our hero do something in exchange.  Naturally, it’s something wicked.  The man is aghast!  But he is already tainted.  Perhaps he can return the money — but no!  It’s already been spent.  And —  OK, you’d have to read the book to find out what happens.

Self is giving “Parker” —  believe it or not —  five stars!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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