Parker comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a largely impressive video presentation that’s only disadvantages probably stem from the intended style of the piece, rather than any conversion side-effects. Rendered in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen, the 1080p/AVC presentation revels in stunning detail and a vivid colour palette, but suffers in terms of overblown whites – undoubtedly those aforementioned stylistic choices, but still enough to prevent this from quite achieving a reference standard. Skin textures, clothing weaves, facial close-ups and wider vistas all look fantastic; the sun-drenched Florida setting promoting some wonderfully vibrant tones, including deep, enticing blues, healthy greens and strong blacks. It’s a very good video presentation.
The audio track, on the other hand, is not just very good, it’s excellent. Easily demo material, the track superbly balances dialogue – mostly shouts and threats, with only a few classic Parker lines – with impressive effects coverage across the surrounds, and fantastic backing from the score. Every little nuance is picked up across the array, with bullets ringing out loud, cars screeching and flames lapping at your living room wall, and the immersive quality is undeniable as crowd sequences come alive and fight scenes make your sofa suddenly seem claustrophobic. Although fairly throwaway, the score only gives the surrounds – as well as the LFE channel – yet more to do. Overall, this is a superior accompanying track.
In terms of extras we get an Audio Commentary with Director Taylor Hackford which feels like he is talking about a different movie. He discusses the original source novel, the changes made, the character designs and cast decisions; the script and action sequences; shooting locations, stunts and score. He seems to love the material and seems to have put his all into the movie; it’s just a shame it didn’t work out, but, for those who disagree, this is a welcome accompanying track. We also get a quartet of mini-featurettes, spending a few minutes with Bringing the Hunter to Life: The Making of Parker, a few more with Who is Parker? and The Origin of Parker and finishing off with Broken Necks and Bloody Knuckles, most of which don’t exceed the 5-minute mark.
Westlake would not be impressed. I love Payback, Point Blank, and The Outfit; love the Parker stories that he has written, which have proven so popular that they have even been made into some surprisingly effective noir-ish graphic novels. But Parker – the first adaptation to carry the true name of his iconic lead character, as authorised by his widow – is a disappointing blunt instrument of a film which goes through the motions and forgets about the style and effortless cool that should pervade this kind of piece. Jason Statham should also know better – he’s capable of better – but here he phones-in a performance that requires little more than for him to just get repeatedly bloodied, both in his own and other people’s blood. They should have called this Blunt Force Trauma, and avoided sullying the Parker name and ruining future outings.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get very good video and audio as well as a few nice extra features, resulting in a solid package for those who enjoyed the movie. Those who appreciate the works of Westlake and enjoyed the previous film adaptations across the years should be wary of this addition – it’s a Parker story in name only.
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