CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
Film Review: Jason Statham Shows Range on Road to ‘Redemption’
CHICAGO – Stephen Knight, the writer of brilliant scripts for “Eastern Promises” & “Dirty Pretty Things,” makes his directorial debut with “Redemption,” opening today in limited release, starring Jason Statham in a role that proves that he has more dramatic range than he’s usually asked to display. With Statham’s best performance since “The Bank Job,” “Redemption” nearly works. It’s one of those truly frustrating films in that there are numerous scenes & moments that work but Knight can’t quite fashion them into a whole that’s not a disappointment. But he comes damn close.
Joey Jones (Statham) participated in something horrible in his time in the service. He’s shattered with PTSD to the degree that he even has hallucinations (one involving hummingbirds, which contributed to the film’s superior, original title, “Hummingbird,” when it was released overseas) and has taken to life on the street. He drowns his trauma in booze, while also avoiding a court martial by staying anonymous. When some thugs beat him up, he’s chased to a rooftop, where he falls through a skylight into an apartment that seems unoccupied. He learns that the owner is gone for the Summer, takes some of his clothes and the credit card he got in the mail, and tries to clean himself up a bit.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Redemption” in our reviews section.|
Finding redemption through stepping into the shoes of a stranger is one of only several plotlines that don’t quite weave through “Redemption” but instead sit parallel to one another. Joey gets involved with the mafia, confronts a pedophile murderer, and even begins a unique relationship with the nun named Cristina (Agata Buzek) who feeds him at a soup kitchen. That arc is actually the most successful of the film by some stretch. Cristina sees some purity and truth in Joey’s eyes. This is a good man in a bad life. And Cristina herself seems to have some trauma in the past that Joey could help her deal with. While a love story between a homeless criminal and a Polish nun may sound like nonsense, it is clear that this is the plotline that interests Knight & Statham the most. It’s where the film comes alive.
Photo credit: Roadside Attractions