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In the realm of cinematic consumables Jason Statham films are the microwave pizzas: Cheesy guilty pleasures that are never quite as good as you hope. But with Parker, the addition of Jennifer Lopez adds an unexpected ingredient to the tried-and-true formula of the high-kicking bald Brit.

Stratham plays Parker, the Robin Hood of thieves, who only steals from those who can afford it and always keeps his word. But after a double-cross during a heist at a state fair, Parker is out for revenge.

Parker Micah A. Hauptman, Clifton Collins Jr., Wendell Pierce and Michael Chiklis in Parker. (FilmDistrict/Associated Press)

Directed by Taylor Hackford, a serviceable filmmaker responsible for The Devil's Advocate and Ray, the film doesn't have much to add to the heist genre except a generous application of blood splatter. (Interestingly this isn't the first incarnation of Parker himself. Versions of the character based on the novels of Donald E. Westlake have appeared in movies such as Payback and Point Blank.)

Strangely for this B-rate Death Wish knock-off, Hackford's enlisted an A-list cast include Nick Nolte, The Shield's Michael Chiklis as the defector crew's leader, Bobby Cannavale and reality judge/popstar/actress Jennifer Lopez.

Lopez turns up in Florida after Parker discovers his ex-partners are planning a high-stakes jewel heist in tony Palm Beach. This is where the film takes a detour into what seems like a failed Sarah Jessica Parker sitcom. Lopez is Leslie, a debt-ridden real estate agent who dreams of the high life in one of Florida's McMansions but is stuck living with her soaps-addicted Ma and a yappy dog, with only the local beat cop (Cannavale) as love interest.

Parker Jennifer Lopez, shown in scene with Jason Statham, is left wondering what might have been. (FilmDistrict/Associated Press)

On a ruse geared to discovering his buddy's hideout, Parker hires Leslie to drive him around. Posing as a rich Texan oilman with a ten gallon hat and accent as laughable as Tarantino's attempt at Australian, Parker isn't fooling anyone. Oh, but you think perhaps sparks will fly. The two could spend an evening counting each others abs.

But, no. Parker has already pledged his heart to his girl Claire. The overexposed flashbacks we're treated to do little to explain why the blond plaything (Emma Booth) stands by her thug, leaving Lopez with little to do but bite her lip and pout about what might have been.

So in the end what is Parker? A rough yet unimaginative con job and a tease in terms of romance. It's not that Statham and Lopez are talentless, but rather that their limited skills are squandered. At his best, Statham is as deadly with deadpan as he is with a drop kick, while Lopez can hold her own — case in point, the underrated Out of Sight featuring a sizzling slow burn between George Clooney and J-Lo. If you want Statham at his best, rent Snatch. Meanwhile someone get Nick Nolte a throat lozenge and Bobby Cannavale a decent script for a change.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

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