The film is more crime drama than crime action, but relax: The Stath still gets to kick ass aplenty. He’s Joey, a former Special Forces soldier on the lam from a court martial. Homeless and haunted by the demons of Afghanistan, he becomes a muscle for Chinese mob and finds himself strangely attracted to a young nun (Polish model Agata Buzek) who doles out meals to Joey and his fellow street people.
While Statham’s recent solo vehicles (Parker, Safe, Blitz, Killer Elite) have been enjoyable larks, they did not aspire to be anything beyond that. Redemption is different — evident once viewers peruse its pedigree. It marks the debut directorial film for Steven Knight, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things and David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises; this work fits in rather nicely with those. It also boasts exceptional photography of nighttime London by two-time Academy Award winner Chris Menges.
But the average moviegoer will be attracted to Redemption by the name sitting above the title — a title that holds more than one meaning. There’s the redemption encountered by Joey, who ironically gets to know his true self only after assuming the identity of another. And then there’s the redemption of the man who plays him — and I mean really plays him — just as he’s accused of taking paycheck after paycheck. Statham doesn’t shirk from showing off the multiple emotions the role requires. His affecting work will surprise many (although some of us knew he had it all along).
Lionsgate’s Blu-ray offers a five-minute peek behind the scenes. Skip that; it’s the main feature that counts. —Rod Lott
Hey! Read This: