Here's an old post about a problematic movie adaptation of Richard Stark's Parker instead of the new post I wanted to write about one of the Parker novels. What's the connection? One of my complaints about Parker, the 2013 Jason Statham movie based on Stark's 2000 novel Flashfire, is the filmmakers' efforts to make Parker more sympathetic. Stark made occasional such efforts when he brought Parker back to life in 1998 after a 24-year hiatus. One of the most notable is the final chapters of Breakout, which, however, are harrowing and wistful in the manner of a lonesome country ballad, rather than cheap, in the manner of a shitty romantic comedy.
don't know the politics of Hollywood movie making, but it sure looks to me as if Parker
, based on Richard Stark's novel Flashfire
, was designed less to render Stark faithfully on screen than it was to show off Jennifer Lopez's character (and her ass).
There's nothing wrong with that justifiably celebrated rear end. But those lower-body close-ups screamed not so much "Sexism!" as they did "Look at me! No matter what part of me! I'm a star!"
It's Lopez's presence in the movie, I'm convinced, that accounts for most of the unconvincing light-comic, cheap humanizing, and romantic elements. They're designed to show Lopez off: the reaction shots, the freak outs, the teary bits. She's not terrible, but she can't carry a movie, especially not one whose focus should be elsewhere. Similarly, the movie's not terrible, but it's a lot more a conventional action movie, complete with pro-forma efforts to show that the tough-guy hero is a good guy at heart, than Stark/Westlake/Parker fans probably hoped for. Read the books instead.
(For a scathing review of Parker
, complete with links to dissenting opinions, view the excellent Violent World of Parker Web site. Even the positive reviews make exceptions for some of the elements I singled out here: Lopez and the cheap efforts to make Parker more sympathetic.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2013, 2015
Labels: Donald Westlake, Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, movie stars, movies, Parker, Richard Stark, Violent World of Parker