HTS Overall Score:68.5
Jason Statham plays the role of Joey, a down-and-out alcoholic ex-soldier. He’s disheveled, disgusting, and a total wreck. Rendered homeless and sleeping in a cardboard box, Joey is tortured by flashbacks from his horrid experiences in Afghanistan and a war crime that he committed. As the film opens, Joey and his squatter friend, Isabel (Victoria Bewick), are attacked in an alley by thugs that run drugs and prostitution. Joey is pounded and injured but manages to flee the scene before he’s killed. During his escape, he hops through an open skylight and falls into the apartment of a wealthy Londoner who happens to be on vacation for an extended period of time. Of course he doesn't just find a new place to stay, he also finds the owner’s debit card, pin number, and lots of fancy liquor. Bingo! Joey’s back in business.
So begins Joey’s redemption. From the outset it seems that Joey is a Jason Statham character that doesn’t fit the mold of what we typically expect from the handsome and hard-hitting action star – at least that’s what initially appears to be true. But it doesn’t take long for him to shave his long greasy locks and wash away months of street grime to reveal the iconic image we come to expect from Statham: closely cropped hair, stubble on the face, and a determined twinkle in the eye. It should come as no surprise that Joey also has a penchant for feeling comfortable in fancy suits, the ability to skillfully drive fine cars, and the possession of seriously mean fighting skills. He soon ditches the alcohol, begins a Rocky-esque physical training program, and is well on his way to re-capturing the the ability to be a fully functional tough guy.
Joey is a complex character. He’s tortured and dangerous but also compassionate. He has a conscious and feels the need to help others that are struggling. However, despite his conscious, he’s more than willing to hurt others and be an accessory to crimes that serve his own needs. He maintains the ability to lie at the drop of the hat but is also comfortable divulging personal secrets. He’s all over the map and often unpredictable.
First time director (and screenplay writer) Steven Knight guides Statham’s character (and the plot) in multiple directions. Joey simultaneously begins searching for his junky friend Isabel, helps a nun named Christina (Agata Buzek) feed the homeless, and stalks his ex-wife Dawn (Vicky McClure). He also lands a job with... you guessed it... the mob. Of course his job requires him to wear a sleek suit, drive slick cars, and kick some tail with confidence. All the while Knight continually dips into Joey’s war experience through paranoidal post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) hallucinations and a series of flashbacks to a disturbing experience in Afghanistan. He also has Joey hunt for a killer and, in a bizarre and slightly uncomfortable twist, has Joey develop the hots for Sister Christina... which leads to several interesting encounters between the two characters. In fact Joey and Sister Christina are two peas in a pod. It turns out that Sister Christina, like Joey, is also willing to bend the rules to her advantage AND carries the burden having committed a dark act in her past. Interesting indeed.
Now to the big question: Is it good and worthy of a few hours of your time? Maybe. Obviously there’s a lot going on in this movie. In fact the movie would have been better served if Knight had shed a few storylines and fleshed out others. Knight piles so much on the audience’s plate that the film’s flow feels disjointed and the ultimate ending leaves quite a few loose threads. I always struggle with movies that try too hard to be more than they are, and Redemption has all the earmarkings of a movie that has too much going on for its own good. It desperately wants to be taken seriously. Is it primarily a story of survival? Love? Revenge? It seems to want to be all of them at once and I think that ultimately damages intrigue causing the film to come across as flat. This film isn’t necessarily one to pass-up, but it’s not one that I would bump to the top of my list.
R for strong brutal violence, graphic nudity and language.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news/r5.jpg[/img]Lionsgate Films delivers Redemption with a 2.40:1 MPEG 4 AVC transfer that left me scratching my head. Let me preface this section of the review by stating that I paused the film not once, but twice, to run through my JVC RS45's menu to confirm that my preferred image settings were engaged. Unfortunately I found everything to be normal; I hadn’t accidentally selected a preset button on a remote to knock the projector into an unwanted mode. Now, on with the review. The film generally presents a rather bland color palate with a push toward tans. Flesh tones are natural – no complaints there. On occasion (indoor shots and some night shots) the film has a metallic blue hue that is edgy and fun. The overall color presentation, however, lacks dynamic pop and vibrancy. Contrast and black levels are the film’s greatest weaknesses: bland and dull. Blacks typically appear to be darkened grays and shadow detail is washed-out by a haze. The result is an image that lacks strength and depth. Fine detail is apparent with some moments that are striking. Unfortunately, my lasting impression of the visual presentation is one that could best be described as frustrating. There are literally loads of scenes that easily could have looked amazing with high contrast and inky blacks. Perhaps my Blu-ray copy was part of a bad batch.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news//r3.jpg[/img]In a total flip-flop from the video presentation, Redemption’s DTS-HD 5.1 MA presentation is fabulous. The film begins with a blast of sound from the rear channels that travels forward and EXPLODES into a subsonic rumble of delicious LFE. It more than sets the tone for an enjoyable sonic ride. Dario Marianelli’s (Eat Pray Love, V for Vendetta) original score does a ton of heavy lifting, gracefully dancing across the front sound stage and frequently moving along the side walls to a forceful presence in the rear channels. Absolutely fantastic. Speaking of the rears, they pop with multitudes of sounds including the hustle and bustle of street noise, breaking bottles, the sound effects associated with hummingbirds, and one particularly notable episode of thunder. There are a few notable moments of punctuated LFE that are sure to give sub owners a grin. Directionality across the sound stage is equally superb and dialog leaves nothing to be desired.
• Redemption: Behind the Scenes Featurette
I’ve always enjoyed Jason Statham movies for what they typically are: clean linear plots, action, fist fights, and explosions. In Redemption, Statham certainly doesn’t do enough to break the mold. I would love to see him tackle a role sporting a different look – perhaps long hair and no stubble. Is he capable of it? I’m not sure. In fact it almost felt as if he’d been picked up from the set of The Transporter and dropped onto the set of Redemption. The movie itself is just okay. It trips itself up with trying to be too complex and carries a few head scratching plot lines (such as Joey stalking his ex-wife) that simply don't need to exist. The audio and video quality are nearly polar opposites on this Blu-ray release, with the audio attaining high heights and the video hovering in very average territory. The included extras (better stated: extra) is just plain embarrassing. I won’t go as far as to say this movie is a total pass; it’s an ok rental but not something I would suggest adding to a permanent collection.
Starring: Jason Statham, Agata Buzek, Vicky McClure
Directed by: Steven Knight
Written by: Steven Knight
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Runtime: 100 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: September 24, 2013
Buy Redemption Blu-ray on Amazon