Lax plotting lets down this crime caper starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez
If there’s one thing to be gleaned from the late Donald E Westlake’s hard-boiled Parker novels (written under the pseudonym Richard Stark) and the movies inspired by them, it’s that there’s no honour among thieves. Parker is a career criminal with a monomaniacal obsession with personal ethics – essentially, 'do what you say you’re going to do' – but he keeps getting double-crossed and left for dead by hoods who don’t live up to his code.
It happened to implacable Lee Marvin in Point Blank, it happened to gonzo Mel Gibson in Payback, and now it’s happening to glowering Jason Statham in Taylor Hackford’s would-be caper (nominally an adaptation of the late-period Parker book Flashfire). It starts promisingly, with an ambitious blag at a state fair that requires Statham to disguise himself as a silver-haired priest: Reverend Clooney in all but name. But after the obligatory falling out with his no-good crew – a well-connected but easily panicked bunch led by Michael Chiklis – the movie rapidly loses energy and direction (the brief appearance of an almost unrecognisable and incomprehensible Nick Nolte doesn’t help). While the posters prominently feature Jennifer Lopez, it takes an age for her character – a highly leveraged, Chablis-loving Palm Beach realtor – to become embroiled in the climactic jewel heist.
Veteran director Hackford approaches his task as if he’s seen one of the duffer Elmore Leonard movie adaptations of recent years, or at least had one described to him. Even stretched over two hours, the lax plotting only rarely makes room for the required outbursts of meaty Statham violence, notably a hotel suite confrontation that seems spliced in from a more single-mindedly disreputable movie.
Apart from Lopez’s appealing performance, the only fresh cinematic pleasure comes from Statham’s lengthy spell impersonating a Texas oilman: the accent is pretty dreadful, but damn if he doesn’t look good in a Stetson.