Parker

I used to watch football on New Year’s Day. So did my wife, in fact, but those days ended years ago for various reasons. Mostly, it doesn’t seem like there are that many interesting college football games on New Year’s Day anymore. Right? But also, we catch up on our consumption of screened entertainment in January and February. What better way to do kick things off then to read the Stephen King columns in Entertainment Weekly?

I trust the horror master for some reason. Maybe it’s because he actually watched Leno when my brother was on Stupid Human Tricks and commented on it in his EW column, which was cool. King’s Top 10 list for 2013 movies started off at #10 with Parker, a “loose adaptation” of a Donald Westlake crime story. This was a great rec and a great way to kick off 2014.

Jason Statham is a near-perfect Parker. He had some big shoes to fill because Parker has been played by the likes of Lee Marvin (Point Blank), Jim Brown (The Split), Mel Gibson (Payback), and Robert Redford (The Hot Rock). I’ve only seen Payback, which was solid, but this is a better movie all the way around.

The plot is straightforward, the action is well-scripted, and the pacing is quick. Plenty of wry humor sprinkled throughout the film has this thing on the verge of an American crime classic. Add Jennifer Lopez in a wonderfully understated role that matches her only other great role – that of Karen Sisco in Out of Site – and you have a must-see action movie.

I never realized, until now, how big and famous the Parker franchise is. As a lover of American crime novels, I’m disgusted that I haven’t read any Donald Westlake novels, but that’s going to change in 2014.

Stephen King hasn’t failed me, but there is one thing that calls his judgement into question: he ranked White House Down number 8 in his Top 10 list for 2013, two ahead of Parker. I’m a little baffled, but I’ll still rely on King.