I must say that as soon as I heard that British B-actor Jason Statham was teaming up with the Puerto Rican diva Jennifer Lopez in an action flick, my mouth dropped in reaction to seeing one of the worst casting selections done in recent Hollywood history. What does Statham’s violent, testosterone driven, one-liner B-films have to do with Lopez’s dough-eye, ear to ear smile, rom-coms? Nothing! So what was the result? A satisfying union of action violence and sweet sexy comedy. These two stars might not necessarily be a match made in heaven, but each one brings their appealing specialties that can please the mass moviegoing taste, especially the Latino moviegoer who eats this shit up!
As is typical in Jason Statham films, Statham plays ‘Parker,’ a Robin Hood like criminal with a code of honor who teams up with not so honorable criminals to do a heist (this seems to be almost the premise in every movie he does). When things go wrong, the nefarious thugs almost kill our hero and leave him for dead until… he miraculously survives. With the intent of getting his revenge, he meets serendipitously Leslie (Jennifer Lopez), a real estate agent hell-bent on escaping her life malaise, who is willing to help him capture the ruffians in exchange for a enough money to allow her to start a new life. Obviously, things don’t go as planned and blood, illusions of romance and a big payday ensue.
Apart from Jennifer Lopez, there is no Latino actors in the cast. Even Jennifer Lopez’s mom, the veteran Broadway actress Patti Lupone, is Italian. She tries to speak with a Latino accent with the intention, I’m sure, to fool us bilingual Latinos into thinking her dialect is purely “authentic”. Please. Al Pacino tried to do it in Scarface and we’re still parodying him. But Hispanics don’t go to the movies because there is one of us represented on screen. We go because there is a genre that appeals to our social sensibilities – in this case action – the reputations certain actors bring to the table and because we like to have a good time like anyone else. ‘Parker’ accomplishes that.
We know what we’re getting by paying $13 (in NYC) to go see Jason Statham. He cranks them out once/twice a year. But with Lopez it’s different. Her professional job is more about being a celebrity than an actress. It is hard to get a sense for how her acting career is evolving because of it. For her to descend from A-list status to becoming a supporting actress in a Statham B-movie is a bit harsh. It’s fair to say that her film career has officially reached a nadir that will most likely continue this way. Her finest acting moment was supposed to be 2006’s “El Cantante,” but she squandered a precious opportunity, and so did Marc Anthony, who if he had been given the chance to shine, his career could have skyrocketed. The last time she was the lead star in a movie it was 2010’s “The Back-Up Plan,” but her last appearance was last year’s “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” a mish-mash of comedy clichés that should’ve been left in the retired jokes closet from where they came from. Still, her output is charming enough to maintain a level of likability in Hollywood and amongst moviegoers that that will allow her to continue working.
By no means is “Parker” a must-see action movie, but in the same breath, it is not one to be dismissive about. It manages to charm, amuse, entertain and laugh at. If I can do that in one sitting from a movie, then it deserves my time and money.