It had all been planned to perfection: the location was the Ohio State Fair, where the takings for the day were being kept in an office, guarded by security. The gang were in disguise, and Parker (Jason Statham), dressed as a preacher, was at the office first, though not before helping a little girl win a cuddly toy at a sideshow, but on seeing the green balloons belonging to another gang member go up, he knew it was time to get going. They overpowered the guards easily, with Parker assisting one of them who was suffering a panic attack, but not all had gone to plan...
What with him helping moppets and talking a nervous guard through his tizzy, you may be wondering why Parker is pursuing a career in crime and not social work, but that was all to establish him as a thoroughly decent gent even if he did make his money illegally. Was this the Parker of the Richard Stark novels? At least he was called by that name in this adaptation, as in the others - such as the classic Point Blank, and the not-so-classic Payback, for example - they gave him a different one, but as the dedication to Donald E. Westlake indicated (Stark was his pseudonym) everyone here thought they were doing justice to a classic character.
Which they weren't, really, because instead of coming across as a plot leaping off the pages of a high octane thrill ride, this was very ordinary stuff, with only occasional bursts of life in a production which suggested a television pilot more than a work suitable for the big screen. Statham was his usual gruff self, except when called on to adopt a Texan accent as part of a disguise whereupon he became weirdly reminiscent of Woody Harrelson, but he tackled the hand to hand combat sequences with believability, which was more than could be said for his character's choices as he made his way through the double cross and revenge plot template.
Yes, poor old Parker really needed to pick his friends better, because as they are making their getaway the question of collecting even more cash arises, and he is none too keen. Which is unfortunate, because the others are very eager to do so, to the extent that they are willing to murder Parker to get their way. So the sole dissenting voice is left for dead by the side of the road with a gunshot wound, only to be found soon after by a family of Good Samaritans who take him to hospital, which he escapes from before anyone can ask any questions, then draws up his scheme to get what's owed to him and see to it that the naughty men never do what they did again. That this involves Jennifer Lopez is an important point.
Well, it was an important point to her, because she played Leslie Rodgers, an estate agent seeking her big commission but stuck living with her mother (Patti LuPone) with next to no prospects and no romance, in spite of looking like J-Lo. Oddly, when Parker enters her life as part of that scheme, he's not there as love interest thanks to already being married to Claire (Emma Booth), so the best Leslie can hope for is financial benefits, though that doesn't stop the scene where she has to strip down to her underwear to prove she's not wearing a wire happening, which also proves yeah, I'm a fortysomething mother of two who could pass for a twentysomething! Suck it! Or whatever Miss Lopez would say in those circumstances. Anyway, while noting that Nick Nolte (in a nothing role) at this stage in his life made Lionel Stander sound like Keira Knightley, you still had two hours of ho-hum, nothing much to see here antics that ended up as you would expect, not bad punch-ups aside. Music by David Buckley.