There’s really no beating around the bush with Jason Statham. Once you hear that he’s the star of a film, you know exactly what kind of movie you’re going to get, which has been a major issue for him for the last several years. When you compare films like “Safe,” “Parker,” “The Mechanic,” and “The Transporter 1, 2, and 3,” you begin to see an unchanging pattern of mindless action, half-baked plotlines, and flat characters. I realize that this isn’t new information, and that I’m obviously repeating myself from past reviews, but since Statham is so intent on repeating himself, it really can’t be helped.
In his latest outing, “Redemption,” he plays Joey, an ex-special forces soldier who has recently returned to London from Afghanistan. He’s homeless and living off the charity of Sister Cristina (Agata Buzek), a nun who devotes much of her time to helping the poor. While escaping from a pair of thugs who regularly rob the homeless, Joey lucks out by falling into the apartment of a man who is out of town. He decides to live there while he gets his life back together, starting by finding a job, which he eventually does in the form of a “driver” (i.e. muscle) for a mob boss. During this time, he attempts to track down a former acquaintance of his, Isabel, only to find out that she’s been murdered. In typical Statham fashion, he quickly devotes himself to hunting down her killer for some good old fashioned revenge.
One of the biggest annoyances of “Redemption” is the dangling plotlines it leaves hanging out there. The above synopsis is the basic plot of the film, at least as much as you need to follow the story, but there are parts of it that are never explained or looked into with more than a superficial glance. For instance, we know there was something between him and Isabel, but as to what that special relationship was, we are never told. We’re simply asked to believe that she was someone important to him and then go along on his quest for revenge.
Then there’s his relationship with Sister Cristina, which starts to get more meaningful as the film plays on, but this merely becomes another area that is left unexplored. Does he have feelings for her, or she for him? It starts to seem that way, but as to where the subplot would go, writer Steven Knight doesn’t want to take us there. Cristina is obviously a deeply-troubled character going through a crisis of faith, but here we run into another wall with the matter being sidelined for more of those trademark Statham-esque elements.
Statham’s character is also rather troubled due to actions he carried out in Afghanistan, which cause him to have flashbacks and nightmares. Here was a chance to set up an interesting and deep character that Statham could have worked with, but again the development of the character is sacrificed for other, less important components of the film. It makes you wonder though whether Statham would be able to handle such a character or not. He’s not exactly known for playing three-dimensional roles, so what would happen if he ever got his hands on one?
Well, he would probably handle it as he does every role he gets his hands on: grunting dialogue, beating the snot out of people, and using the same blank stare he presents in every scene. To be fair, his typical performance has worked for some of the films he’s done: “Crank,” The Bank Job,” and “Snatch” to name a rare few, but those were instances where he actually stumbled into films that had decent writing or intriguing concepts. If only he could do that more often.
I could go on and on with the laziness of the undeveloped plotlines and numerous plotholes that the film presents, but again, it’s more than likely that you don’t need to be told given that they come with most of Statham’s films nowadays. On the off chance that you’re a fan of Statham’s work, then there’s a good chance that you’ll love “Redemption” given that it’s more of the same. If you were hoping that he does anything the least bit different this time around, well, let’s just say you have a little more waiting to do.
Turning to the specs, the film is presented in a 2.40:1, 1080p transfer that is of decent quality. Much of the film takes place in dark, seedy locations, but the picture remains sharp and clear throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio likewise has no problems to speak of. This being an action film, you get a lot of gunfire, punches, and a multitude of other sound effects, all of which are perfectly audible, even at low volume.
As far as special features go, you only get one featurette: “Redemption: Behind the Scenes.” This is one of those extremely brief (approx. five minutes) featurettes that features little snippets of interviews with the cast and crew. The problem is that it’s not enough time to go in-depth, causing it to remain a very superficial look at the film, so if you were hoping to learn anything about its making, you’re out of luck.
There are films that are a little lazy with their special features by including some so-so featurettes, then there are films that are lazy with their special features by including next to nothing on the disc. Granted, there’s probably not much to say about such a film, but as I’ve found myself asking recently: How hard is it to sit the cast and crew down to conduct a proper interview? Statham and writer/director Knight seemed to have a few things to say, why not expand on that? Whatever the case, the release is simply not recommendable, and it’s doubtful any number of extras could have made it so. One of these days Statham is going to realize that he needs to change things up a bit or get someone to start choosing better material for him. Until then, it seems he’s doomed to be stuck in the rut he’s dug for himself.
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