Hollywood hasn't butchered Parker — which is to say it has let him remain a butcher. The protagonist of a series of thrillers by the author Donald Westlake, writing under the pseudonym Richard Stark, Parker the man is the supreme predator in the criminal jungle. Based on Flashfire, the 19th book in the series, Parker the movie begins with a heist at the Ohio State Fair, after which our mock hero's accomplices try to eliminate him for his cut. This only means more scars for star Jason Statham's tank torso, as Parker survives to follow his former partners' trail to Palm Beach, where he finds the hideout in which they're plotting their next job with the connivance of Leslie, a local realtor-turned-accomplice played by a brittle, funny Jennifer Lopez — Leslie keeps divorcée desperation at bay with a glass of white wine. Cinematographer J. Michael Muso contributes uncannily crisp deep-focus images of an American scene, from strip mall to Italianate villa, where everyday larceny is the law of the land. Of course, there is the inevitable softening of the character as originally conceived, for this Parker exhibits something of a moral code, but Statham, of the pure panther prowl and vigilante poise, more than makes up for this when placed into action, slowing the descent of a knife with the meat of his palm and performing miraculous sleight of hand-to-hand with a pistol clip.
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