Here’s an interesting bit of news. One of my favorite literary characters has always been Parker, the star of a series of novels by Donald Westlake (under the alias Richard Stark). The character is a fascinating blank slate, a man with no first name, almost no history, and few scruples. In Westlake’s novels, Parker is a career criminal, working for and around (and sometimes against) The Outfit, a sprawling organized crime cartel. He uses a crew of similarly anonymous, dedicated criminals to take down a variety of scores. He’s not inherently violent, but he certainly doesn’t shy away from violence. He’s almost completely emotionless, a hardened, dedicated operator whose most distinguishing traits are a ruthless efficiency and an uncanny ability to calculate the odds.
The first novel in the series (of which there are 24, only about a third of which I’ve read), The Hunter, has been made into a film twice already. Both are minor classics — John Boorman’s Point Blank, starring Lee Marvin, and Brian Hegeland’s Payback, starring Mel Gibson (reviewed here). Now the character is getting adapted once again, this time by director Taylor Hackford (Proof Of Life, Ray) and starring none other than Jason Statham.
The casting of a Brit is a little unusual, given Parker’s lack of a history, it’s hardly an obstacle. It’s a great role for The Statham, who specializes in hardened badasses, but it’ll be interesting to see how the adaptation is done — Parker really is a rather unpleasant individual with few rules other than avoiding killing if possible, and only stealing from the rich. Hackford isn’t the strongest director, so I;m curious to see if he can do something with the project besides making it just another tough guy movie, and it’ll be equally interesting to see whether or not Statham’s unique brand of physicality is injected into the role.
As of right now, the film is simply called Parker, and is being written by John J. McLaughlin (Black Swan).