Thursday, September 26, 2013

In short: Redemption (2013)

aka Hummingbird

The first and best thing I have to say about Steven Knight's Redemption is that this is no Jason Statham Movie, but a film with Jason Statham in the lead role. The difference between these two types of movies is that the latter kind tells a story using parts of the generic Statham persona for its own goals where the former is about the generic Statham persona exclusively doing Statham persona things. As most of my other write-ups of Statham films probably made clear, I'm not much of a fan of Jason Statham Movies, nor of the actor's usual asshole persona, so it won't come as much of a surprise that I enjoyed Redemption and its aspirations on being an actual movie rather more than the usual Statham outing.

It's not as if Redemption (whose original title Hummingbird would be much less generic and a lot closer to the core of the movie it belongs too, but you know marketing and its idiot ways) is that far away from your usual Statham thing on a bare plot level. This is, after all, the tale of a deserted special forces man taking vengeance on a guy who murdered a young friend who was pressed into prostitution. It's just that we don't generally see our lead as an alcoholic, homeless deserter roaming the streets of London suffering from PTSD, nor are films like this in general quite as open about the fact that the whole "manly redemption through vengeance" thing is a dead end that makes no difference at all in the long run. Vengeance here is not without purpose connected to the waste of hope and people that is alcoholism.

The film's other main interest - apart from a mild case of criticism of contemporary economic politics - lies in Statham's Joey's relationship, friendship and love affair with the nun Cristina (Agata Buzek) whose life and doubts mirror Joey's troubles in a generally less violent way, and who in the end takes the easy way out just as Joey does, though in a way that leaves more doors open for later change for her than his.

While Knight isn't the most subtle of directors, his unhurried and clear style is ideal for this sort of crime drama with emphasis on the drama, his sense for telling details bringing life to what still could be a series of clichés. Going by the performances, particularly that of Statham turning his usual hard-ass character into a human being with surprising effectiveness, and Buzek not quite falling into one of the expected nun clichés, it's also safe to assume that Knight knows how to direct actors, leaving Redemption as quite a success in my book.

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