dir Taylor Hackford
scr John J McLaughlin
prd Les Alexander, Steve Chasman, Taylor Hackford, Sidney Kimmel, Jonathan Mitchell
with Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Nick Nolte, Bobby Cannavale, Patti LuPone, Emma Booth, Michael Chiklis, Clifton Collins Jr, Micah Hauptman, Wendell Pierce, Carlos Carrasco, Daniel Bernhardt
release US 25.Jan.13, UK 8.Mar.13
13/US 1h58
My, what a big hat you have: Statham and Lopez

nolte cannavale lupone
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Parker Director Hackford brings welcome grit to this predictable 1970s-style thriller. It may be cheesy and overlong, but it's so skilfully made that it keeps us entertained. Refreshingly, Hackford keeps everything grounded, avoiding corny pyrotechnics and digital trickery for an earthy, wonderfully trashy romp.

Parker (Statham) is a criminal with a conscience. He'll help a gang of thugs (Chiklis, Collins, Hauptman and Pierce) stage a fairgrounds heist only if no one gets hurt. When they turn on him and leave him for dead, the ruthlessly efficient (and miraculously recovered) Parker tracks them to Palm Beach, where he hires chatty estate agent Leslie (Lopez) to find their hideout. Meanwhile, she needs someone to solve her money problems, and Parker seems to fit the bill (and his flashy suit) perfectly. Instead, she finds herself in the middle of a sting.

Hackford sets up each set piece impeccably, keeping the fight scenes lucid and extremely brutal, even though Parker somehow manages to overcome serious injury every time to keep right on moving. Best of all is how each scene unfurls in an almost offhanded way that feels urgently real. And Hackford also knows that fans of these movies like to be distracted by gratuitous shots of the women in revealing outfits. Or less.

There isn't much to the plot, which doesn't remotely hold water although at least it eschews the usual action cliches. The supporting cast adds texture in under-defined roles, including Nolte as Parker's mentor and father of his girlfriend (Booth), Cannavale as a local cop with the hots for Leslie, and especially LuPone as Leslie's TV-addict mum. But this is Statham's show, and he anchors everything with his usual raspy-voiced bluntness, including the rampant flirtation with a sassy, endearing Lopez. They virtually sniff each other's bums.

The film is essentially a series of elaborate but enjoyably scruffy heist sequences connected by pointless plot exposition and randomly disconnected moments. But the details are so enjoyably nutty that we can't help but be drawn in. The characters are fit to the actors rather than the other way round, which allows the cast to deliver lazy but engaging performances. And Hackford makes the fight scenes so outrageously down and dirty that they leave us wanting more.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 24.Feb.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall