I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Let’s talk about this Parker movie

tn_parkerYou guys know how much I love Richard Stark’s Parker books. I think I’ve mentioned it one, maybe one and a half times over the years.

So of course I was intrigued when Variety announced the other day that Jason Statham is in talks to play Parker in a new movie called PARKER, based on– well, that part’s not clear, the article doesn’t say. Some have assumed that it’s another adaptation of the first Parker book, ‘The Hunter’ (even though we’ve already seen that turned into POINT BLANK, two different cuts of PAYBACK and a recent comic strip book). Others think it’s gonna just be a new story based on the character.
killtownLoosely based, I’m afraid. While some sights debate the merits of Statham in the role
few have said anything about the most eyebrow raising sentence in the Variety article, the part that says the movie “revolves around a thief who, though at times is forced to be a killer, still lives by a code of honor that includes never stealing money from people who need it.”

You know me, I love a good code of honor, but there’s no way around this one – that’s not fucking Parker. Parker lives by a code all right, but it has nothing to do with honor. I’ve read I guess 16 of the books now, and I don’t remember anything ever crossing his mind about it being a shame to take money from some poor sucker. That’s not something that Parker would ever think about.

The only thing Parker cares about is getting the job done correctly. Any concerns he has about killing or not killing have to do with efficiency. As another character we all love said, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it,” or whatever. He doesn’t want to kill somebody if it’s gonna cause him any trouble. If it will make his job go smoother then yes, he’ll kill somebody.

The one thing that always seems to worry movie producers about the character – that he seems unlikely to be nominated for a Humanitarian of the Year Award – is of course the exact reason why the character is so beloved and timeless. In a 2008 interview Donald Westlake explained, “When Bucklyn Moon of Pocket Books said he wanted to publish ‘The Hunter’, if I’d help Parker escape the law at the end so I could write more books about him, I was at first very surprised. He was the bad guy in the book. More than that, I’d done nothing to make him easy for the reader; no smalltalk, no quirks, no pets. I told myself the only way I could do it is if I held onto what Buck seemed to like, the very fact that he was a compendium of what your lead character should not be. I must never soften him, never make him user-friendly, and I’ve tried to hold to that.”

So of course whenever there’s a movie they do the opposite, they try to soften him and make him user friendly. I still love several of the movies, but they never quite get it right. I’d say PAYBACK and POINT BLANK get pretty close. They certainly make him a cold-blooded bastard. But they give him emotional moments and connections, they make him just a little bit too human. THE OUTFIT and THE SPLIT moreso.

getawayfaceIn all of those movies, though, he’s not called Parker. I’ve never been clear if this was because Westlake didn’t want anybody to use the name or if it had to do with optioning the rights to the individual books and not the entire series. At any rate I feel like if you’re gonna use Westlake’s death as a chance to snatch up the actual name I think you have a duty and obligation to not be a dick about it. You gotta make an effort to reflect the original character more than the other versions. But if that Variety description is accurate then this is clearly not the case. Too bad.

But hey, even though the movies mentioned above are not quite Parker they’re all movies I really dig. So while this one sounds like it’s unfortunate, unethical, unamerican, shameful, etc. I do hope it will still be pretty cool. Statham wouldn’t be my first choice, but maybe that’s just because he’s so associated with a big, showy type of action that Parker shouldn’t be. He does project a meanness and an intelligence that fits. I can definitely imagine it working.

I’m more concerned about Taylor Hackford being the director. Hackford is the guy that did AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN and RAY. He was actually one of the editors of WHEN WE WERE KINGS, that’s the best thing he’s been involved with as far as I’m concerned. It’s better than if Simon West or somebody was doing it, but it’s a question mark. He’s done respected movies but even in those he hasn’t displayed much chops, and who the fuck knows what his take on the films of badass cinema is.

The Variety article quotes Hackford as saying, “I don’t want to get stuck in a genre, What I like the most about this piece of material is that you can take a genre piece like this and turn it into a great movie.” You can read this as condescending, like the crime genre is usually crap but can be elevated by the vast skills of an Academy Award nominated director of glorified TV movies like himself. But he probly didn’t mean it that way. He probly just meant he was gonna take it seriously and try to do a good job.

Hell, even if he was being condescending it’s not the end of it. POINT BLANK is an absolute classic, but it’s always seemed to me like John Boorman had no respect for the book. In interviews and the DVD commentary he brags about dumping the original screenplay because it was just a straight up genre movie, presumably like the book.

You know what would’ve been exciting? If Brian De Palma was gonna direct it. Which he was, a couple months ago.  I’m glad I didn’t find that out until now, because I woulda been real bummed when suddenly they were talking about Hackford instead.

greeneagleAnother vital point that’s not addressed is when this movie takes place. Most of the books were written in the ’60s and ’70s, a very different time to commit a robbery. If PARKER takes place in the present day it completely changes everything. Parker of the books could never use a cell phone, didn’t have to worry about sophisticated alarms or cameras, databases or forensics. In ‘The Hunter’ he’s able to go around using a bad credit card back before they could check that shit on phone lines. If you want to contact Parker you call Handy McKay at his diner, and Handy calls Parker. If this movie Parker has email I’m not sure I can take it. Or if he has a computer hacker sidekick, or any of that high tech MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE type shit they put in modern heist movies. It was smart for Brian Helgeland to set PAYBACK in some kind of indistinct ’70s-ish period.

But right now we got no clue what it is. We’ll have to wait until more information is available. Keep in mind that every story out there at the moment is just recycled from the Variety one, and there’s alot of assumptions and mistakes getting repeated. Some have stated matter-of-factly that the new movie is based on ‘The Hunter’ or that it’s a new story, but without any new source besides Variety, which did not state either. I saw 5 versions of the story that I guess must’ve used wikipedia as a source because they confidently state that there are three movies of ‘The Hunter’: POINT BLANK, PAYBACK and Ringo Lam’s FULL CONTACT. This may come as a surprise if you’ve seen FULL CONTACT. It does involve a guy coming back to get even after being left for dead on a heist, and I do think it’s true that they got that from POINT BLANK, but the characters and details are not the same at all, and it’s not credited as an adaptation or anything.

I did look up the producers to see if they seem trustworthy or not. Steve Chasman is the producer of most of Statham’s movies (TRANSPORTER, CHAOS, WAR, BANK JOB), so that doesn’t tell us much. Les Alexander seems to just do TV movies (I KNOW MY SON IS ALIVE, SWITCHED AT BIRTH), except for NEXT OF KIN with Patrick Swayze and Liam Neeson. I didn’t like that one too much, but it’s okay. Sidney Kimmel seems like the more respectable producer, he did stuff like ALPHA DOG, THE KITE RUNNER, SYNECHDOCHE NEW YORK, ADVENTURELAND. Some good stuff, nothing completely embarrassing. The last guy listed is Jonathan Mitchell, all he did was a movie called WHO DO YOU LOVE that never came out, but it’s about the founding of the great blues label Chess Records. So who knows.

So my conclusion on that is, well, at least it’s not Millennium Films. That’s a good sign.

And then there’s the writer, John McLaughlin. He got a story credit for the Tommy Lee Jones comedy MAN OF THE HOUSE. Probly just wrote an early draft, I wouldn’t blame him for that. His only other produced credit is BLACK SWAN so far. Admittedly he’s one of three credited writers, and Aranofsky is known to work very closely with his writers and perfect everything through countless drafts. So him by himself doing Parker for Jason Statham is gonna be different. But BLACK SWAN was probly my favorite movie last year, so respect is due for being involved. That’s positive.

But whatever happens with this movie it’s still a good time for the Parker books. I know alot of new people are being turned on to the character by the two comic book adaptations by this artist Darwyn Cooke. He did ‘The Hunter’ and then he wisely skipped to book #3, ‘The Outfit,’ which is one of my favorites of all the books because it has multiple heists as all of Parker’s allies plan simultaneous hits on the organized crime group of the title. Actually Cooke condensed book #2, ‘The Man With the Getaway Face’ into a prologue to explain how Parker got plastic surgery.

They’re good adaptations, very faithful, using big chunks of the original text and dialogue, doing what can be done visually with the drawings. I would encourage you, though, to check out the books too. You just can’t beat the original. I like the retro ’60s style of these drawings, but it’s still a cartoon drawing. In your head it’s gonna be tougher, I guarantee you.

And the best news is that at last all of the books are easy to get. For years I’ve been trying to read all of them in order, scouring ebay for each one, trying not to spend too much. Some of them took a while, I kept getting snaked by guys who never bid until the last second. Sonofabitch.

I got stuck on the 15th book, ‘Plunder Squad.’ That one and ‘Butcher’s Moon’ were the last two written until he revived the character in the ’90s with ‘Comeback.’ For some reason they were never reprinted and were very rare. I never saw them on ebay for less than 80 bucks, and usually it was alot more than that.

In 2008 the University of Chicago Press started reprinting the Parker books in order. It would be years before they caught up with me, that is if they even saw the whole series through. But the time flew by faster than I thought it would, and now they’ve done it. I finally own ‘Plunder Squad’ and ‘Butcher’s Moon’ and they’ve even done ‘Comeback’ from 1997. There are only 7 left to reprint and they’re all recent enough that they’re easy to find used copies of.

‘Plunder Squad’ was well worth the wait, that was a good one. We’ve seen alot of stories before where Parker sees bad signs and it explains that he would usually back out but he stays on the job for whatever reason. In ‘Plunder Squad’ there are two jobs in a row where it doesn’t smell right so he doesn’t do it. My favorite is when he’s in his hotel room and the driver’s wife shows up at his door. Knowing this is gonna be some kind of love triangle shit that will spoil the job he just walks past her to his car and drives away.

I’m in the middle of ‘Butcher’s Moon’ right now and this one is pretty cool too, it’s a direct sequel to ‘Slayground’ where he goes back to try to recover some money he had to ditch in that one. And I like how there are all these characters who were cops and security guards and stuff that were involved in that story and you get to see them a couple years later and how their encounter with Parker changed their lives.

Anyway, let’s hope for a good movie, and please read these books. Reading shit is fundamental.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at 3:08 am and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog), Vern Tells It Like It Is. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

48 Responses to “Let’s talk about this Parker movie”

  1. Hackford actually did make one good movie, Dolores Claiborne, which is one of the best King’s adaptations out there. Not better than De Palma’s Carrie though. De Palma is the man for this job. If not him, at least bring Walter Hill. Another Marty-Leonardo collaboration might fit here as well.

  2. I’ve only read the first book and it kind of blew me away. The opening sentence was so hard boiled that I woke up in an alley a couple of hours before dawn stinking of bourbon and with a nasty bump on my head.

    I came late to the party, I only read The Hunter about eighteen months ago, why haven’t I read more of them? Must track that down.

    I didn’t like that guy’s take on “It’s not just a genre piece”, I wish people would have some balls and say hey, genres can be really cool and going in to a genre movie with the intent to do a good job of it is a thousand times more a show of integrity than doing a half assed job because you’re kind of embarrassed you’re not making The English Patient or Atonement or one of those other well-respected prestige movies about being really sad.

  3. I’ve read “The Hunter”, “Comeback”, “Breakout”, “Flashfire”(which is a good one for multiple heists as at the beginning he’s double crossed and his partners take his share of a job from him, and so he works his way across the country in the following few chapters, pulling lots of smaller one man jobs to fund his revenge, which is funny because he raises more money doing that than was stolen from him), “Firebreak”, and the final trilogy “Nobody Runs Forever”, “Ask The Parrot”(where we actually get a chapter told from the perspective of the titular parrot) and “Dirty Money”. As well as the two graphic novels (which there’s going to be a special “Martini Edition” collection of with an extra bonus story).
    While I really hope they do a period movie with it, it wouldn’t be so bad for them to have it in the present day as the more recent books handle it well enough. “Hacker Sidekicks” aren’t that big a worry either as he tends to work in groups and they can make the computer guy just another pro. Though yeah, they’d probably fucking make them comic relief or something. But if you have Parker his true, stoic, stone cold self, the modern settings would work in favour to enhance how single minded and insular he is by comparison to his surroundings.

  4. It’s funny, when I heard the news about them casting The Stath my first thought was “I wonder what Vern thinks of this?”

  5. I just don’t think Hollywood has the balls to do Parker right. It’s a staring contest between them and the character and they always blink and I don’t think this time will be any different.

  6. “Butcher’s Moon” remains my all-time favorite, although all of them are great books. Have any of you seen the adaptation of “Slayground” they made in the eighties? What an unbelivable piece of crap! They took a great story — the original “Die Hard” in some ways — and turned it into a meandering potboiler that wouldn’t even pass muster as a tv-movie.

    But enough about that. Let me tell you about an adaptation that, in my opinion, is pretty cool. I spend a lot of time on the road, and I really enjoy listening to audiobooks. There aren’t very many audios of the Parker novels, but one worth seeking out is “Backflash” read by Robert Davi. Davi does a great job, and he really nails Parker. It was only published on cassette, but it probably isn’t hard to find. You can also downoad it from Audible.com, if you’re an iTunes user.

    As far as Statham goes, I guess he’ll be okay. I hope he loses the accent, though. Parker is not British.

    Who would I pick? I’m so glad you asked. Let me tell you, the guy I see in my head is Ted Levine. All of you probably think I’m an idiot now, but I’m just being honest. I think Levine could really capture that arctic stillness at Parker’s core, and still be charismatic and engaging.

    Well, thanks for listening.

  7. Okay, I’m so not a Parker expert of any kind, but I think it’s odd that that one guy who Vern linked to is against Statham and explains it with: “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. ”
    Maybe it’s just me, but I think Statham can do a stone faced no nonsense badass pretty well.

  8. What I don’t get is why they’re even bothering if they’re not going to do it right. It’s not like Parker is a universally beloved icon that they can put on Burger King cups. He’s a cult character from a series of old books that have spent most of their existence out of print and are thus completely unknown to the vast majority of the moviegoing public. If they’re going to remove the one aspect of the character that makes him unique, why not just make something else? It’s not like there’s any shortage of potential plots about badass thieves with hearts of gold. In fact, in their zeal to butcher Parker, they came up with one themselves: “a thief who, though at times is forced to be a killer, still lives by a code of honor that includes never stealing money from people who need it.” I know these Hollywood guys aren’t used to thinking for themselves so it’s no wonder that they didn’t realize that they accidentally had an idea. It’s not a great idea, but it’ll work. It’ll work even better if they just make that idea into a movie and not try to change somebody else’s idea to fit it.

  9. By the way, it has just occurred to me how cynical I’ve become in the past couple of years. If you’d have told me three years ago that Statham would be playing Parker all I’d be doing high-fiving everything in a 50-foot radius.

  10. If they wanted to do a softer, gentler version of Parker, why not just adapt the Alan Grofield character instead?

  11. billydeethrilliams

    April 21st, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I keep telling people( by that I mean me) that Michael Shannon would make a good Parker. I know Parker has little emotion but give it to someone who can convey something else besides a blank void face. Still not as bad as Channing Tatum playing Richard Kuklinski. Once in awhile you get a small favor.

  12. Daniel Craig should be Parker. There. Just saying what everyone’s thinking.

  13. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Majestyk: I’m guessing that the people who are putting the film togather are thinking first and foremost of the “franchise” potential of the novels (thus the pedestrian casting and directing). Like you said, these guys aren’t thinking for themselves; they’re not bringing any vision to the table, just numbers.

    The appeal of the Parker novels probably has a lot to do with the fact that they believe any chimp could turn pre-esisting texts into a series of scripts without too much effort (which is obviously not true). The books were probably cheaper to obtain the rights to than Green Sparrow or whatever comic book is still left to be made into a film. Not having a vocal mainstream fanbase that will get all pissy about the changes they make is probably another bonus for them.

    Nothing so far indicates that these films are the result of love for the source material. Which, in my opinion, is a bass ackwards way to make a film.

  14. Clearly the only thing that can save this movie is if Parker has an adorable orphan sidekick. Or maybe a dog that covers its eyes with its paw when something embarrassing happens.

  15. Jareth Cutestory

    April 21st, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Or a tiny, sarcastic green alien that only Parker can see.

  16. I like where you’re going with this, but I think it would be more economical from a narrative and budget standpoint to have the dog be able to speak in the voice of Anthony Anderson but only Parker can hear him. Unless it grants wishes with wacky results. Everybody knows talking dogs can’t do that so we’d have to go with the alien.

    You know what? Let’s just shoot both versions and fix it in post. That ALWAYS works.

  17. Statham can act and can do badass. It’s just that between his Transporter character, Death Race, Mechanicc, etc., he’s been relegated to strictly big-bang, big-bucks action. I can see Statham pulling this off if he has an actor’s director. And on that note…

    Taylor Hackford may be no visionary but he knows how to direct actors and he knows how to stage some really great moments in his films. Go check out “Blood In Blood Out” or “The Devil’s Advocate” or “Dolores Claiborne”. Shit, as cliched and hackneyed as most of “An Officer…” turned out to be he has some great moments with some great performances in that flick. He directed LG Jr. to an Oscar.

    It’d be nice to see anybody’s dream team put together a fan favorite like Parker on film. But this could be pretty good all the same.

  18. I think Michael Shannon would be a great Parker. He can be sort of mean looking, he’s not really handsome, he seems like he could do the emotionally detached professional part well and he’s got a great monotone voice and a way of talking that looks and sounds like he’s not moving his jaw. Now that is being efficient there. It’d be great to hear some Parker lines come out of his non-moving mouth.

    Also somebody needs to make a Dortmunder movie with John Hawkes.

  19. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Statham is bad casting. It’s just likely that the movie surrounding him will be watered-down horseshit.

  20. Ed Harris. Done. Thanks, I’m going on break.

  21. Anyone ever listen to the director’s commentary for The Limey? It’s brilliant.

    It features Soderbergh and the guy who wrote the original script, and this writer is clearly annoyed that Soderbergh took his straight-forward “genre story” and turned it into something a bit more artsy, I guess (just like Boorman did). Good stuff.

    Hey, apparently there’s a commentary for Point Blank with Soderbergh and Boorman. Would love to hear that conversation.

  22. Gotta say, I like Taylor Hackford’s work. He’s one of those director’s who’s name is not plastered everywhere but you suddenly realize he’s directed a lot of solid films. Kinda like John Badham. I really dug Devil’s Advocate. That was back when Charlize Theron used to be naked in every movie. Remember those days?

  23. Ed Harris is a hundred years old now

  24. If you ask me, the perfect director for a Parker movie would be Nicholas Winding Refn, he who directed BRONSON and the absolute masterpiece of badass cinema that is VALHALLA RISING, and not to mention his PUSHER movies. Refn was born to direct a Parker movie.

    Vern, by the way, have you seen VALHALLA RISING. I’m love to see your take on it.

    All this Parker talk makes me eager to rewatch POINT BLANK again. I love that movie. Yeah, i know it’s different from the novel, i read it too. But dammit, the movie is all kinds of awesome.

  25. Knox Harrington, the audio comentary on POINT BLANK is excelent. Boorman alone makes very good and informative comentaries, but him with Soderbergh is just pure brillance. One of the best comentary tracks i ever heard.

  26. Interesting. I’ve seen “Point Blank” and “Payback”, knew they were about the same character, but never known much about the books they were based on. Not sure if the character, as described, would work on film. And to a lot of people he probably won’t, but I’d love them to do something uncompromising with him. Like Michael Caine in “Get Carter”. Or – more recent comparison that half this forum will undoubtedly disagree with – the lead guy in “Hostel”.

    What I hope they DON’T do is show the film to a test audience, watch as said audience comes out looking white and shaky, and decide that what the filmgoers really need is an uplifting ending where the anti-hero finds plot-convenient redemption / death. That would seriously suck.

  27. Knox Harrington

    April 21st, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Will have to get that copy of Point Blank, then (damn, I already have two).

    Of course, the master of the Director’s Commentary is Michael Mann. Every single commentary of his is like a masterclass in filmmaking. This guy knows the world in which his films take place better than any other filmmaker I can think of; and he’s the one director who actually talks about the characters more than he does about the actors. Very informative, very entertaining.

    Seriously, check out his commentaries for Heat, Manhunter and Collateral. Hell, he even talked me into liking Public Enemies more. I just wish there was a commentary for Ali. I effen love that movie.

  28. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE8JrppTfLk

    Trailer there for a recent german movie called “Im Schatten”, wish I could find more information about it, no idea if it’s ever coming out on dvd but it looks like a very Parker-esque basic heist film. That’s what I’d like to see from a Parker movie, but you just know they’ll make into an action film, especially if it’s got Statham in it, and will have cars exploding and shit. We’d be better off if they just made it as a direct-to-video series.

  29. I met Westlake when he and Boorman presented a Point Blank screening a few years back. He said he was happy for people to make films based on his character but the name Parker was his and he wouldn’t let them have it. He also said that it was a pain to write about Parker driving because he knew he’d always have to find a way to get him out of the car without writing ‘Parker parked the car’.

  30. Higharolla Kockamamie

    April 21st, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Am I the only man alive who liked Proof of Life? I thought that had some pretty shockingly good action scenes towards the end and whatnot. David Caruso has even got some sorta mega moments in that film. Has nobody else seen it?

  31. Proof of Life was pretty good. A lot better than I thought it would be. Too bad the movie was overshadowed by the whole Meg Ryan cheating on her husband with Russell Crowe thing that was going on.

  32. If we’re fan-casting an ideal period Parker movie – then I’d like to throw in John Hamm, Kevin Durand and Ray Stevenson. They all have experience playing baddies/assholes – but are still big, tough-looking, charismatic guys who you could take seriously planning and executing scores and chopping chumps in the windpipe. In lieu of Jack Palance returning to us, they’d do for me. I get what people are saying about Daniel Craig – but I reckon he’s too associated with Bond for that to work.

    Higharolla – I get what you’re saying, there are a couple of effective action sequences in POF – but the whole thing is so leaden and the the main “romance” so mishandled (in my opinion) that I seriously doubt Hackford’s story sense. There’s a lot of flab on that film and it’s kind of the exact opposite of the kind of clarity and precision that the Stark books would seem to require.

    I reckon Aronofsky would be ideal – he loves genre movies – understands sex and violence on screen – and I’d just love a Parker movie where he is (like Natalie in Black Swan) in every fucking scene. Just marching through the movie with those awesome The Wrestler/Black Swan over the shoulder Steadicam shots would be amazing.

    Agh – all this fantasy film-making is unhelpful and unhealthy probably. I’ll be like Vern and hope for a good movie, and like Mr. M and hope they see the light and change the name of the fucking thing.

  33. The Hunter: Rated PG-13 for mild violence, intense sequences , and smoking.

  34. I think in his introduction to the comic Darwyn Cooke claimed to be the first person Westlake gave permission to use the name “Parker,” implying that he had withheld it from filmmakers etc.

    Personally I like the idea that the people behind the movies create their own version of Parker with a different name; it’s respectful to the novels and also acknowledges that they’ll be making their own changes to the character. That they’d call a movie PARKER and, from the git go, announce that their intentions have nothing to do with the actual character, is worrisome indeed.

    I will defend Hackford based on BLOOD IN BLOOD OUT, which I think somebody mentioned. That’s a decent flick, with great quotes such as “I don’t want his porkchop – I want his life!”

    Not much in it to convince me he’s the man to bring Parker to life for the first “official” movie. And I completely agree with what Vern said about Statham: I like the guy, he’s fun to watch, he could pull Parker off…if he’s able to pull himself out of CRANK mode for the duration of the shoot.

  35. Didn’t Clint already do a Parker movie? His Parker was nothing at all like the books.

  36. Your obsession with the Parker novels mirrors my obsession with the Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith. The urge to pussy out with characters like Parker and Ripley must be overwhelming for filmmakers. They like moral ambiguity about as much as they like casting Asian actors in lead roles.

    Ripley gets away with his crimes in the books, escaping not only the police but also a guilty conscience. Filmmakers, on the other hand, feel a need to punish him. He gets caught at the end of PURPLE NOON and suffers tormenting guilt in THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY. The latter movie also turns a cold blooded murder from the book into self defense, making him much more innocent.

    Ripley’s quite a bit different from Parker — he’s a genuinely likable person who hates murder and will only kill you if you uncover one of his cons and threaten to go to the police about it — but the “filmmakers pussying out” point remains the same. Even Hitchcock pussied out when he filmed Highsmith’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, presenting a clear good vs. evil battle while Highsmith set fire to the line between the two and pissed on the ashes.

    RIPLEY’S GAME thankfully doesn’t pussy out, but they turned Tom Ripley into Hannibal Lecter sans cannibalism. THE AMERICAN FRIEND is the only film that captured the character with any accuracy, even if it’s Dennis Hopper walking around in a cowboy hat.

    I initially misread “Les Alexander” as “Lexi Alexander,” the kickboxing woman director of PUNISHER: WAR ZONE. Yikes.

  37. No way this Statham flick will so much as get within a 100 miles of Darwyn Cooke’s awesome adapt. That guy captured it with uncanny perfection. Also: no living American director can do Parker right. You need Sam Fuller to do that shit, or Don Siegel (exhibit A: COOGAN’S BLUFF)

    Okay, maybe Scorcese.

  38. Ray Liotta is who I always see as Parker.

    And Dortmunder – I don’t know if they could do a series, but I liked THE HOT ROCK.

  39. Vern – did you ever see Hackford’s PROOF OF LIFE? I thought it was a good action thriller. Just saying.

  40. Caoimhín, did you see the TV series Parker Lewis? Eastwood wasn’t involved in that one, and I don’t know how the main character got from being a young white hustler to a not-so-young black jazz musician, but I can certainly see that they’re the same guy. Can’t see Marvin, Gibson or Statham pulling that off.

  41. My friend mercedes finley is gonna be in the movie parker.

  42. So Michael Chiklis is gonna be the villain? Does the book really have a villain? I was wondering due to the Westlake quote above, where he says Parker is the badguy.

    I’m two episodes away from finishing the Shield, so i’m glad to see him playing a possible hard ass again.

    And boy were you guys right about that theme song. Total ear rape.

  43. It’s not clear whether it’s based on a specific book or not, but yeah, there’s usually either somebody on the team that tries to doublecross Parker, or somebody he’s trying to rob or has previously robbed that comes after him, or some other crook that’s trying to get the same money as him or get the money from him, or some other cops or organized crime figures that he gets into trouble with.

  44. I think the best way to do it would be to use THE HUNTER as the prologue. You see Parker getting gunned down, recovering, and getting his payback in a point blank fashion, but you shoot it so you never see his face. Then you throw in a little THE MAN WITH THE GETAWAY FACE so that Statham gets to get to do one fight with his face all mummified. Then you have the big reveal of the Statham scowl about 15, 20 minutes in when the bandages come off. Boom. Title card: PARKER.

    Then the rest of the plot would be THE OUTFIT.

  45. I was recently an extra in this movie at the ohio state fair. Statham was dressed like a priest. it was pretty funny actually, he had gray hair.

  46. Michael Shannon is a GREAT call. He would make a superb Parker.

  47. Poster:
    http://uk.ign.com/articles/2012/10/01/exclusive-poster-debut-parker
    Generic as all hell. If they were smart, they’d have gotten Darwyn Cooke to design a poster for them.

  48. If you love Donald Westlake and Parker (and let’s face it, you do) you need to read this great appraisal of his career: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8876204/donald-westlake-man-created-parker-quest-perfect-character

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