daniel cohen gets rough with Jason Statham …
Plot: On the run from a court martial, ex-military operative Joey Jones (Jason Statham) breaks into a man’s apartment, using his place while the owner is away for several months. Joey moonlights as an enforcer for a major London criminal organization, while trying to find redemption in giving money to the poor, and developing a relationship with a nun (Agata Buzek).
Aside from having one of the most unoriginal titles I can remember in recent years, Redemption is a solid little story about a drunken beaten down man on the run from the military, illegally stays at a man’s apartment, becomes a mob enforcer, and falls in love with a nun. I can’t argue with the fact that all those elements combined make for an interesting movie, but I just wish a better lead actor was chosen for this.
Jason Statham and I have never gotten along. I just don’t see the charisma. Hollywood is doing everything in their power to make him the iconic action star of today, yet much like his performances, his movies are boring as hell. With Redemption, this is definitely a different sort of role for him. Yeah, he’s punching people, but there really isn’t any action at all aside from a few brawls. He does actually have to act in this movie. Joey is a very quiet, but intense character. And while I do think Statham is giving a very worthy effort, and this is clearly his best performance, he’s still just okay. And while not the greatest script in the world, there was definitely a good story in here. But I just can’t help but think someone like Ryan Gosling, who owns the ‘quiet intensity’ mantra, could have worked wonders for this movie. And I understand you can’t always get the Ryan Goslings of the world … this is who they got. And while Statham isn’t bad here, his ‘meh-ness’ significantly brings the film down.
In the midst of all the usual Statham trying to be a bad ass scenes, there was a simple story of a tough guy falling in love with a nun. And this is what I really liked about the movie. Despite Statham’s performance, him and Agata Buzek (Cristina) had solid chemistry. I especially enjoyed watching Cristina be weary of this guy at first, but slowly but surely she becomes endeared by him. This is a very multi-layered character, and Buzek is great at displaying her many emotions. It’s this relationship that kept me invested in the film. The strength of this movie though is also it’s greatest weakness, in that Cristina really is the more interesting character, especially in comparing her and Joey’s back stories.
The beginning of this film really turned me off. We get all these choppy flashbacks of Joey’s military days, and certainly get the sense that something really bad happened. And I know they don’t want to reveal all their cards till the very end, but it’s so confusing and uninteresting, you end up not caring about his past, which makes it harder to connect with Joey. Director Steven Knight also tries to be too artsy-fartsy in a couple early scenes, as Joey has these pretentious day dreams of shooting his gun while in his new apartment. This is just off putting.
Speaking of the apartment Joey commandeers, I enjoyed the humor that stemmed from this. Joey finds out this guy won’t be back for several months, so he lives at his place, and uses his crap, including even his car … what a dick. This guy also has the dumbest neighbors in the history of neighbors. Ned Flanders and Wilson Wilson would be ashamed. But there is one bad aspect to this storyline that I have to address (minor spoilers rest of this paragraph). Normally this would be a nit-pick, but it’s too stupid to let pass. Joey goes to an art gallery with Cristina after using this guy’s mailed invitation to get in. Someone at the party knows who the real apartment owner is, and calls Joey out on using his invitation. Joey and Cristina simply run away. Okay, so this guy isn’t going to call the cops or anything? Come on.
The film meanders quite a bit, and there are really only two characters of note. I still found this fairly engaging though, but just wish there was another actor at the helm. Although, Statham does have one great moment at the end when he finally confronts one of the main antagonists. But there’s too much Statham being ho-hum tough guy criminal, breaking people’s arms, all that jazz … whooptie doo. And Joey’s military back story really is forced and overly dramatic. I did care all the way through, but that’s mostly because of the film’s secondary character.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10 (Slightly Better Than ‘Meh’)
Photo Credit: Daniel Smith and Roadside Attractions