"Parker" - This plays like the bloodiest promotional video ever made for Palm Beach tourism. Stabbings, explosions and furniture-smashing brawls occur at some of the ritziest locations within the sun-splashed, pastel-soaked slab of Florida opulence. The city is the setting for a $50 million jewel heist as well as some revenge doled out with the usual machine-like efficiency by Jason Statham. As the title character, the anti-hero of many of the novels by Richard Stark (the pseudonym of the late Donald E. Westlake), Statham is stepping into a well-known persona. But he's not exactly pushing himself outside his comfort zone. Parker is the kind of thief who lives by a civilized, self-imposed code - one he expects others to adhere to, as well. But this is the same character Statham always plays: quietly cool, dryly British, powerfully lethal. Director Taylor Hackford's rather perfunctory action film is actually more compelling before it even gets to Palm Beach, as Parker makes his way from Ohio to Texas to New Orleans before reaching his final destination. After being double-crossed by his partners (including Michael Chiklis and Wendell Pierce) on a daring robbery of the Ohio State Fair, Parker seeks revenge by tailing them to their next job: hitting the auction of some major jewels that belonged to a late society maven. Jennifer Lopez co-stars as the struggling Palm Beach real estate agent who learns too much and wants a piece of the action, but playing weak and girlish isn't exactly her strong suit. R for strong violence, language throughout and brief sexual content/nudity. 118 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic