Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
It's a Jason Statham movie where he plays a troubled balding badass with razor stubble.  There's a scene where his character actually shaves and still has razor stubble.  How is that even possible?  Nonetheless, do you think Jason Statham can play this character?   Yes he can.  He's the constant in whatever movie he shows up in.  I've said it before, like yesterday in regards to 'Homefront', whether a Statham movie is good or bad is rarely his fault, but the things supporting him.  This time however, with 'Redemption', originally titled 'Hummingbird', things are a little different.  Yes, Jason plays pretty much the same character we are used to, but there is a little variation on the theme.  And this time the elements in support actually lift this one up towards something that might actually be a good movie.

When we first stumble onto Joey Jones (Statham), the Afghanistan war veteran is not looking too good.  He is homeless on the streets of London, unshaven, unkempt, and slightly deranged, but he does his best to look after his good friend, a homeless teenaged girl named Isabel (Victoria Bewick). Some thug looking types walk into Joey's alley completely roughing up the downtrodden, and I just know when they get to Joey they are going to get seriously f'd up, but no, Joey does what he can to protect Isabel, then turtles, then flees in terror.  What is this mess?  In time my friends… in time.

Joey manages to stumble into the flat of some artist who, as it turns out, is going to be in the states for an extended stay, so Joey makes himself at home.  The guy has liquor in his cabinet, a Benz in his garage and a new ATM card that has come in the mail, so Joey and his enormous set of demons, which includes crazed hummingbirds for some reason, is very happy. 
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Still, despite Joey's windfall, his thoughts remain on Isabel who he left on the street, and who he must find.  To this end, he often returns to the good nun Sister Christina (Agata Buzek) who seems to be about as damaged as Joey, to assist him in finding Isabel.  Joey has also decided to get himself right, get off the sauce, help his estranged wife and young daughter, and find a decent job.  Recognize that a sober Joey becomes the Joey we thought we going to be, as the baddasery has returned and Joey has gotten a plum gig cracking skulls for the Chinese mob. 

On one hand things are going pretty good for Joey.  He's making money hand over fist, he's clean, and he and Sister Christina have developed some kind of uncomfortable relationship.  On the other hand, things are as bad as they've ever been for Joey.  His demons from the war still torture him, his job is less than honorable, and he's found Isabel.  And his relationship with Sister Christina gets even more uncomfortable.  It's called 'Redemption' but from where I'm sitting it looks like there's more 'Retribution' being dealt out than 'Redemption'.

At the end of the day, I did enjoy this movie written and directed by Steven Knight, but by just describing it, I do realize that it has a narrative that is somewhat unfocused.  From one angle we have this bizarre 'Harold and Maude' styled love story, then from another angle we have the tortured PTSD elements of 'First Blood', then from yet another angle we have a revenge / class warfare battle going on, and of course we have the traditional Jason Statham / supreme badass / Transporter thing going on.  Think Frank Martin with a much lower social conscious.  That's a lot of different kinds of narratives folded into one movie, and it always doesn't blend. 

Fortunately for us, despite these various disparate elements that never completely come together to form a cohesive unit, the constant that is Jason Statham does his darndest to keep everything in motion.  I don't know if Statham is something someone could call a good actor or not, but he certainly has figured out how to do that thing he does, and this time his character does stretch a little further out than the typical razor stubbled badass we've seen from him before.  Joey Jones is not a 'good guy', and he's probably doesn't even qualify as an anti-hero.  The character does some reprehensible things in this film, looks the other way more times than not, but he does exist by a code and shows loyalty to those close to him.  It's a fairly complex presentation that Statham has to deal with.  Basically what we're saying, in regards to this film, is that all the various elements of this film do work by themselves, mainly because of the performance put forth by Jason Statham, it's just when you stitch them all together is where the seams don't always fit so snugly.

Regardless of all of that, 'Redemption' is a tough, gritty, sometimes difficult to watch story that eschews a lot of the typical action, though there is still enough there, in favor of complex characterization.  It's not a perfect movie, sometimes faltering under its own complex narrative, but it's an engaging film, in no small part to its star slightly stepping out of his comfort zone.
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