Jason Statham is Parker, a taciturn thief with a talent for big heists and a high moral code. "I don’t steal from the poor and I don’t hurt people," he grinds out from under designer stubble and his eyes go all flinty. Just as well, really, because the poor don’t got no money and violence is just so messy.

We’re not sure how this all fits in with the opening sequence of this serviceable thriller from Taylor Hackford as we see Parker and gang raiding the takings at the Ohio State Fair.

Clearly this is high-minded revenge for the massive turnout for Mitt Romney last November. Anyway, Parker’s good, real good but when he refuses an offer from the none-too-bright thugs he’s just worked with to join them in another heist, they relieve him of his bounty and leave him for dead at the side of the road.

Clearly this is a big mistake. For a start it breaks Parker’s moral code. "It’s not about the money," he grinds out from under his designer stubble and his eyes go all flinty again. What follows is a well-paced and ultraviolent revenge flick with colourful sorties to New Orleans and the Florida Keys where Parker, in pursuit of his betrayers, poses as a Texan oil baron and hooks up with a down-on-her-luck local realtor played by Jennifer Lopez.

Nick Nolte is Parker’s mentor and he’s a grizzly old goat who commands every scene he’s in while Lopez, who hasn’t made a decent career choice since Out of Sight, is very likeable as the sassy and sexy accomplice.

It has some of the ratcheted-up tension of an old school thriller and it's no surprise that Parker is based on a novel by Donald E Westlake, the pulp writer who provided the source material for John Boorman's peerless Point Blank.

Like one-name bad asses of yore, we hope to learn in an upcoming sequel that Parker’s first name is Marmaduke or maybe Timothy. Because believe me, there will be sequels, lots of ‘em – Parker has the word franchise running through it like a stick of dynamite.

Alan Corr