Writer/Director: Steven Knight
Oh man… Jason Statham. Okay, without even seeing the movie, I bet he’s going to be an ex-soldier or cop doing something illegal for a profession, but has some sort of moral code. Then, a kid or a woman is going to be wronged so he’ll drive a car really fast and do a couple of spinning back kicks to balance the scales of justice. Okay, here we go: “Redemption.” Yup, ex-military…. oh, here it comes – time to defend his bum friends. Wait… he’s getting beat up… and he’s all scrawny and flawed? He’s running away from responsibility… and acting… really, well… what? What’s happening?? What the…? He’s crying! Jason Statham, what is this? What are you doing??
Okay, enough of that. “Redemption” is the story of an AWOL special forces soldier living in the back allies of downtown London. One day a small group of thugs try to mug the homeless to get their crack and whatever money they have. Joe (Statham) runs away and finds sanctuary in a vacant high rise apartment. First thing’s first though: Joe drinks as much liquor as possible in one night. Then, he does some research. The apartment he’s in belongs to a wealthy photographer that’s away for the summer, and there are a bunch of royalty checks by his door. In Joe’s current predicament, it’s really hard to imagine anyone passing up this opportunity.
So Joe cleans himself up, cashes the checks, and finds a job. He starts off as a dishwasher, but when he beats up a group of drunken hooligans he quickly gets picked up to be an enforcer for the mob. Cash starts coming in piles and Joe literally doesn’t know what to do with his 180 degree life change. He’s a mans with an extraordinary amount fo skeletons in his closet and decides to try and ease his conscious. He donates large chunks of his new income to the soup kitchen that fed him, assists his ex-girlfriend and daughter financially, and pummels men that harass London’s homeless community.
Can using morally shaky means clear your conscious? That’s the question in “Redemption.” Joe attempts to take a short cut to salvation with theft, beatings, and corruption. Honestly, it’s probably the only means Joe really has. He’s a very mentally-damanged character, frustrated by war crimes and years of physical and mental abuse. You’ll watch him drink himself to the point of passing out on numerous occasions. He is sensible enough to use Cristina (Agata Buzek) as a guiding light though. She’s a meek nun that works at the soup kitchen, and they have a relationship that somehow enables good and bad behavior. Also, since Cristina is a sheltered nun, and Joe’s a crazy super hobo, they somehow find themselves at a similar stage in life that makes them kind of adorable. Their flirting isn’t polished – it’s closer to the clunky awkwardness of high school students.
Anyway, “Redemption” is not perfect by any means, but it’s a step in the right direction for everyone involved. The cinematography is gorgeous, as they only seem to light with ambient neon, the themes and story arches are compelling, and the performances are top notch. I’ve seem Statham play a variation of “The Transporter” for so long I forgot he has talent beyond that of an action hero. There just seemed to be more actual ideas than just ideas of how to execute ideas… ideas.
When it comes down to it, I don’t care about the jumbled plot. This film was striving for something deep with a unique voice. I had a great time watching this and I’m jazzed to see what Steven Knight and Jason Statham do next. I’ll take a good character arch over an amazing car chase any day.
– Alternate titles for this movie are “Hummingbird” and “Crazy Joe.” Both are better than “Redemption.”
– They had a great arm break in this.
– Oh god…fast seven.