Release Date: June 28, 2013 (Limited)
Currently playing on VOD platforms
Director: Steven Knight
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 4.5/10
Every Jason Statham film is essentially a B-movie, but they are usually quite good B-movies although Redemption does not rise to the level of some of his other work. He reminds me of a poor man’s James Bond. He is British, handsome, well-built, gets on well with the ladies, is an action hero, and often dresses well. Each of these elements is shown off to one degree or another in this latest film from writer-director Steven Knight. But none of the elements are that exiting to watch leaving me with a rather blasé feeling about the Statham experience here.
Statham is Joseph Smith, a former special forces commander with the British army in Afghanistan. When he and some fellow soldiers are attacked, he becomes a one-man executioner killing five Afghanis – one for every one of his colleagues. He manages to escape – literally – a court martial prosecution and winds up living on the London streets. There, he lives in the same box with Isabel (Victoria Bewick) who is sadly taken into sexual slavery and killed by a client. The incident becomes the impetus for the film’s third act. Before this, the two are separated and Joey ends up in a nice apartment where the usual occupant is gone for eight months. Joey takes up residence there, first living off the man’s bank card but eventually getting legitimate work in an Asian eatery.
It is here that his talents get recognized – his talents for physically putting guys in their places. He begins to work for Mr. Choy (Benedict Wong) as a driver and collector of cash. Needless to say, he begins to working for gangsters and makes a great deal of money doing so. During this period, he continues a relationship with a nun named Christina (Agata Buzek) who he knows from his days on the street. He gives her some money, then a dress, then food for the soup line, and so on. The two become quite close, developing feelings for each other. But true to this kind of movie, they are not actually in love, will not actually get together, and the latter is for the best.
Joey and Christina work together to find Isabel’s killer. Joey uses his mob connections to find out the perpetrator’s identity. Christina comes alive around Joey, and we can tell why she is smitten. She is also damaged, we find out, after being systematically sexually abused as a 10-year-old girl in Poland by her gymnastics instructor. Finally, it was too much, and she slit his throat. The authorities sent her to a convent rather than prison, and Christina feels likes everything she has done since is a way of making up for perhaps her shame but also the sin of killing another. Joey is a killer as well, though of a much different kind, and there is almost something symbiotic about who they are, how they see the world, the ultimately the actions they take.
It is not a great film. There are not any incredible action sequences, for example, nor are there any particularly interesting dramatic moments – with the exception of maybe a touch here and there of Joey and Christina interacting. The film is certainly violent when things get physical, and no one is left alone – from prostitutes to business men to homeless men – everyone seems to get theirs at one point or another. It is not a film I would recommend except for the relationship between Joey and Sister Christina; their characters and their relationship is what makes this film redemptive.