Friday 6 March 2009


I saw this movie a few years back and remember enjoying it but, in those days, I never knew anything about the Richard Stark/Parker book on which it was based. And then recently I read my first Parker - The Hunter and was so impressed that I wanted to see the movie again.

And so one Amazon order later the disc is spinning in my DVD player.

Okay it's still an enjoyable enough movie but after reading the book the flaws become visible. Firstly in this movie the Parker character is called Porter - I don't understand the reasoning behind the name change. And secondly although the character goes against Mel Gibson's "NICE GUY" image (or at least the image he used to have) it's still a watered down version of the remarkable character Richard Stark/Donald Westlake invented.

There are a few major plot changes too - although the reasoning for Porter/Parker's wife double crossing and shooting him is stronger than the book, the rest of the film, particularly the Hollywood ending, is much weaker.

Mel Gibson is fine in the role and does come across, for the most part, as the nasty lowlife of the books but as always the book is far inferior to the source material.

A good film then, very good in fact, but not exactly Richard Stark's Parker. In fact I think I liked it a lot more when I didn't have the book to compare it with.

The other film based on the book was Point Blank which again I haven't seen for years but I've got that movie on the way so expect a review here soon.


Unknown said...

Did you watch the theatrical version or the director's cut (which I believe was only released on dvd)? The latter is much closer to Stark's creation and a much better film.

David Cranmer said...

I've read somewhere that Westlake lost the rights to the Parker name in the films. I believe in the Lee Marvin movie his name was Walker. Your take is right on. It's enjoyable but the novel is a masterpiece.

Anonymous said...

You may wish to check out the director's cut of Payback. While I don't know that it's a better film (I'd need to watch them both again to be certain what my opinion is) it is much closer to the book in terms of both the plot and the character of Parker.

Also, the reason "Parker" is called "Porter" is because Donald Westlake/Richard Stark wouldn't allow the "Parker" name to be used unless there was going to be a series. He was very protective of the name and reportedly it was a lot of work to get him to agree to let it be used for the upcoming Parker comic adaptations.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Jeff - the basic version

David - agree fully.

Trent - that explains it

Charles Gramlich said...

I watched this long before I knew of the STark books too, and really liked it. I thought Gibson did a great job.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Charles I'm three quarters trough another Parker/Stark - you've got to check the books out. Bloody excellent.


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