When the name Jason Statham is heard, one can usually assume that a action packed film is not far behind. With one of his newest films, however, this is not the case, unfortunately. Redemption (2013), although it has it’s moments of intense action, is more a character piece.
This film is about Joey, played by Statham, an ex-special forces officer. Joey, back from war, struggles living on the streets of London. A group of men come to torment and steal from the homeless in an alley, including Joey and his girlfriend, but Joey won’t have it. He fights back. However, he is forced into a chase and winds up hiding in a strangers home, badly beaten. Lucky for him, this particular stranger is out of town–for months. Joey seizes the opportunity to live in the temporarily abandoned condo/apartment to give himself a chance to better himself. Joey gets a job working for a the underground mob. He is paid very well to collect payments for the mob and smacks some people around in the process.
Statham’s character, having been in the war, is psychologically broken. Throughout the film, he struggles with flashbacks. He feels bad for the actions he’s taken and is not sure how to make the best of what he has become. In his attempts to be a better person and make up for the mistakes he’s made, he tries to buy his goodness donating much of his blood spilled, tainted income to the homeless shelter. He struggles with right and wrong, though.
This film is definitely a step away from the norm for Statham, and although it is not executed the best, it does show he has talents besides action, action and action. He can act. The storyline for Redemption, likewise, although not the strongest, definitely has a lot of strong points. First, the character arc for Joey is strong. Second, the supporting character, Cristina the nun, played by Agata Buzek, has a lot of depth and provides a lot of conflict for Joey. She brings out the softer side of him, helping to bring him back down to Earth.
The area where this film fails the most is that it doesn’t seem to have any clear goal. Joey is damaged, yes; but there is nothing or no one event to really motivate him to make a change or take a step towards anything. The beginning of the film does not clearly set up the fact that the woman with Joey is his girlfriend. For all anyone knows, she could be his sister or cousin. Nothing is set up properly.
With all of that being said, Redemtion is a film that builds great characters, examines the psyche of an ex-armed forces agent, and let’s you escape from reality for a hundred minutes. Redemption, written and directed by Steven Wright, is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.