by Robert Hass
Redemption is different than typical Jason Statham fare, is well shot and lit, has a cool, pulsing mood/style, a firm performance from Statham, and is thematically ambitious. But it also is ploddingly paced, its execution and story becomes abstruse, even if it has themes of uplifting and "redemption", it is depressing, and it also has a lack of excitement. Rent it for its style and for something out of the ordinary from Statham, but you might be a little disappointed or feel inconclusive after watching it.
The story: A once Special Forces officer, Smith Jones (Statham), returns to his hometown London after battle and is highly affected. Having decended into a spiral of alcohol, drugs, and consequently homelessness, Smith now roams the dark underground world of the city with no money or hope. That is until when evading street thugs, he has a change of fate and is given the resources to start anew. While trying to become a better man, he develops a stronger relationship with a reserved nun who fed him meals when during his homeless days, and also he looks for work. Without saying to much, when an old girlfriend is killed, and other troubling problems confront him, he has to make many tough choices as he deals with inner demons, and tries to lead a path of redemption. Sound like The Transporter or Parker? This certainly isn't the same cup of tea.
The good: Redemption gets a lot of credit for its ambition and gritty style. Unlike other Statham vehicles, this story is about the internal action instead of ear-piercing explosions. It admirably aims a being more a character study, and tries to offer up some messages and themes on morality and of course "redemption". Statham is actually fairly strong as the troubled lead, adds some layers of buried, emotionally trauma , and seems very devoted to his role as well. It's style is never overbearing, and adds this neat almost pulsating vibe to the story. Alos, most of the style is this way thanks to it's solid cinematography and a great use of moody lighting throughout. It aims at being more than your usual shoot-em-up thriller, and even if it misses a lot, it often hits unique heights.
The bad: While being so different than other Statham action-eers is a good quality, in other aspects, it partly does take a toll. The pacing is very slow and it takes a bit for the story/characters to develop. It can be beneficial in many films to have a slow boil, but this film lacked some of the excitement or action to compensate for its brooding set up. Statham is talented at breaking bones and reading lines, but the I wish they showed little more of his physical abilities, even though I understand why they couldn't also. The story has messages and emotions it wants to send through, and some of them do work, but overall its story and points do become vague and ambivalent towards the middle of the film. It also is fairly depressing, and while it's ending plants seeds for retribution and hope, it does remain solemn and feels a tad inconclusive.
My take: I'm glad that it was made and do appreciate the aspiration of the filmakers, and the film does offer many unique and positive attributes. I also praise Statham for his determination in the role, even if the story and film doesn't completely succeed altogether.
V/H/S 2 (rental and in theaters)
White House Down
Redemption (rental and in theaters)
World War Z
Man of Steel
Fast and Furious 6
The Great Gatsby
Iron Man 3
Dead Man Down
Europa Report (rental and in theaters 8/2)
Redemption (On rental and in theaters)
GI: Joe Retaliation (available 7/30)
V/H/S 2 (rental and in theaters)
Oz: The Great and Powerful
The Last Stand
The goal for this blog is for me to deliver more direct movie summaries that skip more of the fluff and deliver the goods. The story, the good, the bad, and my overall take on it. For those of you who just want to know if you should see it or not, read the ratings and headlines of the films. Click read more if you want to see the details about the reviews.
My name is Robert, but friends call me Vern. I'm a proud cinefile (not as creepy as it sounds...) I write, direct and edit movies. When I'm not doing that, I'm watching movies -- as many as I can -- and reviewing them here for you. I've found that my tastes are unpredictable; conventional to bizarre, formulaic to abstract, old-school to ahead of the curve. I've seen enough to have perspective but am still young enough to need a lift to the theater. Let me know what you think.