Jason Statham IS Donald Westlake’s ‘Parker!’

The shiniest star in Hollywood takes on his darkest role to date.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

Jason Statham's about to crank up his star power: he's just signed up to play Parker in director Taylor Hackford's upcoming film Parker. (Well, the title certainly makes sense.) Parker, first name unknown, is the amoral but highly professional career criminal who starred in 16 novels by novelist Donald Westlake, writing under the pseudonym Richard Stark. Defined by his commitment to his principles and not much else, he'll kill, rob and maim anyone from the innocent to the guilty in order to get the job done. Otherwise he's a pretty decent guy. It's the perfect role for Statham, who has specialized in very similar roles throughout his career in films like The Transporter, The Mechanic and The Bank Job.

Variety reports that Academy Award-winning director Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman, Ray) is directing the upcoming film, although which novel – if any – he plans to adapt is still a mystery. Westlake's Parker novels have been adapted to the screen officially and unofficially at least eight times to date, in which the character has been played by such macho movie legends as Lee Marvin (John Boorman's Point Blank), Jim Brown (Gordon Flemyng's The Split), Robert Duvall (John Flynn's The Outfit) and Mel Gibson (Brian Helgeland's Payback and its infinitely superior director's cut, Payback: Straight Up). In 1966 famed French director Jean Luc Godard adapted the Parker novel The Jugger into the movie Made in the U.S.A. without actually securing the rights to the book. Westlake successfully sued the director and prevented the film from being distributed in America until 2009, a scant three months after Westlake's death.

Taylor Hackford gave Variety one unintentionally discouraging comment about his upcoming adaptation: "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." We like that he thinks Parker can be a great movie (why direct it otherwise?) but we hope he's not serious about thumbing his nose at genre material. Genre movies comprise some of the best movies ever made. Hackford's made a few in his career, including the over-the-top horror thriller The Devil's Advocate, starring Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino, although based on how well that turned out we can understand why he'd be skeptical about their potential.

Crave Online will return with more Parker news because we, too, are professionals.