Day of Redemption

| March 12, 2005

In Day of Redemption, Vincent Pope (David Lee Rawlings) really has no reason to come back toward Sandstone, Arizona. After an illogical prison break that’s one of many clichés stacked throughout this too-long “modern western”, he’s out and about, killing and hitchhiking. But…to come near the place where Frank Everly (Jeff Fahey) the retired sheriff resides? It doesn’t seem reasonable for him. Then again, writer/producer/star David Lee Rawlings would never have had the chance to excessively chew the scenery like those villains before Vincent that have raced across movie screens in psychotic glee.
Frank once was married to Mary (Kristian Alfonso), whom was swiftly killed by Vincent. As we are told, he was stalking her relentlessly, but the “why” of that equation is never answered. Of course, considering how clumsy, simply, and angrily Vincent explains his past in a scene set in the abandoned town of Redemption, we are perhaps better off that the explanation is never there. The scene involving Mary’s murder is filled with everything we’ve seen before. Frank’s upstairs brushing his teeth, oblivious to the kitchen melee right until the last minute when Mary fully screams his name and he dashes downstairs, gun in hand. When Frank tangles with Vincent, we are shown the “power” of him by Vincent lifting him up from the ground, a brief shot displayed of his feet dangling a little off the ground. And indeed it can get worse as Frank cradles Mary as she dies and he lets out the ever-reliable, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”
Some of the photography exhibits perfectly the barren lands of Arizona. The roads are dry, the deserts drier. But for everything else in here, it doesn’t provide any kind of benefit.
In accepting the post of sheriff once again from Randal Harkins, a modern-day Barney Fife, he comes upon a deputized gun-lover posse formed by Randal which leads him to ask, “Is this the best you can do?
Now, come on. The Marines can’t possibly be expected to prowl around the land, looking for Vincent. You want real cops, then jump into another movie. But we have this one and it’s even more disheartening as the clichés get even worse, as well as some of the editing.
In order to try to get us to hate Vincent even more, writer David Lee Rawlings inserts teen lovers on a blanket out somewhere, where some “shocking” news is revealed. And inevitably, the male of the couple expresses the same Lifetime Movie Network surprise that’s been seen too often. He can’t handle the idea of being a father. He goes to his car to get some water and in thinking about Vincent in that area, the most obvious idea popped up: Vincent will take the teen hostage, force him to drive and once the youth is freed from this barely-a-sideshow attraction, he’ll realize that maybe he should face up to fatherhood and just explore it, just see where it can take him. Nope. Vincent is far more economical than that and it’s the only original zing to his personality. He doesn’t waste time at all.
But wait until the town of Redemption. Yes, the inevitable does happen there and if you ever come upon this DVD and read the back of the box, the denouement should be figured out easily. In Redemption, a crazy ex-preacher and his deaf daughter live there. Once again, the unnecessary questions pop up such as, “How do these people even eat?” Surely the cattle have gone and traveled elsewhere and it’s not exactly a city atmosphere here. The preacher is an ineffectual character, looking nothing more than frightened, when we already know that Vincent is dangerous. And as to the deaf daughter, she’s not deaf. When Frank sees her, he’s not using sign language at all to tell her how beautiful she’s become. He says it and she responds with the sign for “thank you” and then she pipes up about where her father is. Rawlings’ reasoning for the character is understandable, considering that before her, two female characters had already been on-screen. However, why would it matter if she’s hearing or deaf? Easily as a hearing person, she could be in such shock with Vincent there that she doesn’t speak.
Then again, I’m not the person that made the film, just the one trying to grasp exactly why I felt like my entire set of emotions simply dropped away, why I felt like such an aimless zombie afterward. This isn’t so much a “western” as it is for some excuses to possibly fulfill long-harbored desires for self-produced action sequences and to perform as a villain rather than always watching them on screen.
The passion that David Lee Rawlings had for this project is evident within the film, but this passion is not a good one.

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