Among hard-boiled fiction fans, Parker (no first name) — the protagonist of more than 20 novels credited to Richard Stark (one of the many pen names used by Donald E. Westlake) — is an iconic figure. In films, he has been portrayed, with different names and various degrees of faithfulness, by no less than six actors — Lee Marvin, Jim Brown, Robert Duvall, Anna Karina (sort of), Peter Coyote and Mel Gibson, as (respectively) Walker, McClain, Macklin, Nelson, Stone and Porter. Jason Statham is the first on-screen Parker to be called Parker, which may be one reason Taylor Hackford's new film is proudly named (you guessed it) ... “Parker.”
The movie opens with a nearly 20-minute heist sequence, in which Parker and four others knock over a county fair. The plan is executed less than flawlessly, and Parker resolves never to work with the same group again. They, unfortunately, need all their loot (including Parker's share) to set up their next, way bigger job, so they leave Parker by the side of the road without his money, but with a couple of seemingly fatal bullet wounds instead.