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Hummingbird 2013 | 100 min | R | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 28 June, 2013
 28 June, 2013

Country of origin

 United Kingdom

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Screenshots from Redemption Blu-ray

Redemption Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 30, 2013

Jason Statham will never have acting range in a manner that brings him respectability in the industry, but he has tremendous presence, utilized to varying degree in action extravaganzas that play up his cool, knuckle-cracking demeanor. While hardly challenging the star, “Redemption” does offer Statham something a little different to play, offered a chance to take possession of a human being for a change, not just a growly enforcer. The picture provides the traditional allotment of intimidation and cracked bones, yet “Redemption” has a little more on its mind than a simple serving of beatings. Visually striking and marked by unexpected characterizations, the movie isn’t perfect, but it’s unusual, acting as a career multivitamin for Statham.

Shattered by his experiences as a Royal Marine in the Middle East, Joey (Jason Statham) has returned to London a broken man, turning to homelessness to keep himself away from others. Befriending Isabel (Victoria Bewick) while avoiding violent thugs on the street, Joey is crushed to learn she’s run away, electing a life in prostitution to provide for herself. Determined to find her, Joey discovers an empty apartment to live in for much of the year, working on his health and alcoholism with the help of Polish nun Cristina (Agata Buzek), who’s experiencing a crisis of faith. Taking a job as an enforcer for the Chinese mafia, Joey builds a nest egg with plans to share the wealth with the family he abandoned, hoping to find Isabel during this period of concentration, yet he finds himself drawn to Cristina’s comfort and shared torment when it comes to recovering purpose in a ruined life.

“Redemption” (titled “Hummingbird” elsewhere) marks the feature film directorial debut for Steven Knight, screenwriter of “Eastern Promises.” Bringing the same underworld tilt he offered the David Cronenberg picture, Knight returns to a rough landscape of good and evil, with Joey a character of pure intention but limited heroism. It’s an interesting spin on the action movie norm, making the character more about a temporary soulful fix than a lasting rehabilitation, with Joey pulling his life together to right a few wrongs, unable to shed his haunting combat experience, which still brings on hallucinations and avian symbolism. He’s glued himself together to find someone he’s learned to care about, turning to crime to fight crime. For Statham, this type of dimension isn’t his normal routine.

The picture has its heart in the right place, but its execution is uneven, finding Knight zipping through the particulars of Joey’s ascension into the Chinese mob to get the character to a place of cinematic stability, allowing the subplot with Cristina to take command, developing warmth between the characters. An abused girl pushed into a life of religious service, Cristina also has unexpected qualities, including a love for the ballet that Joey initially funds with the first of many donations to the Christian cause (to maintain interesting meals, the brawler pays for pizzas and gourmet food to keep his homeless brothers fed), with the pairing soon turning romantic -- a transition that reads forced but manages to convince onscreen. The pieces don’t always fit correctly in “Redemption,” but Knight is committed to shading these personalities differently, giving them concern and fallibility that makes the movie feel substantial, which also prevents the effort from becoming just another violent excursion concerning revenge.

Sharp cinematography from Chris Menges keeps “Redemption” alive, displaying a glowing pulse of the city atmosphere that aids the grittiness Knight is aiming to communicate, sending Joey through a maze of back alleys and dingy rooms to take care of business. Joey’s also a man of dubious morality, committing to human trafficking and drug delivery to complete his mission, earning the trust of his Chinese supervisors on the way to satisfying his own bloodlust. The restlessness that outlines the character’s unsavory actions lends “Redemption” identity and an atypical goal, with Joey more of a determined shadow figure than an antihero, so fixated on his endgame, there’s simply no time to contemplate his actions. Statham rarely gets to play such an ambiguous character, especially one with a few emotional eruptions. It fits him well.

“Redemption” is flawed and occasionally inches toward corniness, but it’s a solidly constructed thriller that manages to surprise. Statham grows as an actor here, and that’s a development worth a viewing, inching the actor away from his customary snarl to a place where tears are allowed to flow and he can play a bastard with beating heart.

Starring: Jason Statham, Vicky McClure, Benedict Wong, Agata Buzek, David Bradley, Ger Ryan
Director: Steven Knight (I)

» See full cast & crew

Redemption, Forum Discussions

Last post
Survivor: Redemption Island 466 May 17, 2011
The Raid: Redemption 115 Mar 09, 2014
The Shawshank Redemption 43 Feb 28, 2012
The"24 Redemption Thread" 40 Nov 26, 2008
24: Redemption (Season 7) Trailer 16 Nov 14, 2008

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