Time was when director Taylor Hackford's name appeared above the title of a film, where it would attract as many moviegoers as the names of the stars. His name still counts for a lot -- he is, after all, the twice-elected president of the Directors Guild of America -- but it does not appear above the title of his latest movie, Parker, starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez. Perhaps by intent. Just as well. The often-praised director of Officer and a Gentleman and Ray is taking it on the chin from some critics. Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal speaks of Hackford's brute-force direction and concludes that the movie sets a tin standard for crime thrillers. Elizabeth Weitzman writes in the New York Daily News, It seems clear that Hackford wanted to knock out a quick moneymaker, something that would not require much energy, but might allow everyone to pick up a nice tan. (Much of it is filmed in Miami Beach.) Lou Lumenick in the New York Post does allow that Hackford handles the first half tough and taut, but lets things go ridiculous and slack. And Adam Graham in the Detroit News remarks that Hackford just spins his wheels. A.O. Scott in the New York Times writes a kind of tongue-in-cheek review of the movie, in which he remarks that Hackford brings honor to the first syllable of his last name. He explains: I mean that as a compliment; it takes one to know one. And sometimes -- especially in the epically dreary cinematic month of January -- the pleasures of craft can be more satisfying than the challenges of art.
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