Redemption marks the directorial debut of Steven Knight, the screenwriter of David Cronenberg’s acclaimed crime thriller Eastern Promises. And as with many directorial debuts, this cockneyfied crime caper suffers in a number of key areas, namely a sketchy narrative and an over yearning need for moralistic vindication.
Statham stars as Afghan veteran Joey Jones, who’s posttraumatic stress leads to hallucinatory flashbacks and chronic bouts of alcoholism, in the seedy netherworld of Neo Dickensian London. Which makes for grim viewing at best, but that is by no means the end of the problem. Yes, there is some awesome cinematography here; yes the soundtrack by Dario Marianelli rocks worlds, but in the milieu of modern crime this movie simply doesn’t provide enough to truly satisfy.
So what of the story? Well, after an ugly street fight, in which his girlfriend goes missing, Joey the homeless drunken lout breaks into the up market home of a wealthy photographer and promptly makes a pauper to prince transformation that turns heads. Including the habit covered noggin of an emaciated soup kitchen nun, Sister Christina (Agata Buzek) who—surprise, surprise, has a whole closet full of rattling skeletons her self. The stick thin sister and bad man Joey indulge in a rather halfhearted flingette, whilst our hero makes a no less half hearted search for his missing girlfriend—Let’s hope she’s not been kidnapped, by whore-mongering human traffickers eh, Crimeziners… Zzzzz.
But just as things look like they are turning around for Joey, in his palatial new pad, wouldn’t you know it, his whole world comes crashing down around him. Inevitable really, as there are so many narrative plates spinning at this point, things just have to end badly—homelessness, prostitution, the Chinese mob, even a money-strapped ex wife and wide eyed “daughter I never knew” thrown in for good measure.
Naturally, Crimezine favorite Statham gets to brutalize heads and snap arms along the way, but there is a total absence of charm in this movie—the kind of charm that has made our Jase into the Hollywood box office hero he is today. There always comes a point in any actor’s career when they become so successful that they think they can take on more “serious, thoughtful” roles. No doubt Statham and his undoubted charisma will achieve this in the future. Unfortunately, Redemption is not and never was the vehicle to make that happen.
Crimezine advises catch Redemption on cable with a cuppa char. There is enough barftastic boozing in this movie to turn even Raymond Chandler sober.