The ultimate movie version of Donald Westlake’s Parker wasn’t even named Parker; in Point Blank he was named Walker, and he was played by Lee Marvin. Point Blank was based on the first of 24 Donald Westlake Parker novels, The Hunter - which has been turned into two other films. One was the Chow Yun Fat-starring Full Contact, the other the Mel Gibson-starring Payback (which you haven’t seen if you haven’t seen the recently released director’s cut. Seriously, night and day). Lee Marvin, Chow Yun Fat, Mel Gibson… and Jason Statham?
Statham feels like the kind of guy Marvin would have killed. Parker is a career criminal, a cold and calculating killer who has no redeeming qualities. He doesn’t smirk. He doesn’t joke. He’s all business. Westlake once said that he would have cast Jack Palance in the role, saying ” That may be partly because you knew Palance wasn’t faking it, and Parker wasn’t faking it either. Never once have I caught him winking at the reader.”
Statham winks. He winks a lot. He’s simply wrong for the character. I don’t hate Statham, but there’s a blokey affability to him, which is just not the character.
But he’s got the role anyway. He’ll be starring as Parker in Parker, the FOURTH film adaptation of The Hunter. The movie is being directed by Taylor Hackford, who has been working since the 80s at never making a truly great movie. He also pounds out Helen Mirren. But as a filmmaker he’s strictly middle of the road stuff.
Buy Point Blank. Check out the recut version of Payback. Hope the fifth version of The Hunter is better cast than this one.