Homeless, drunk, and disheveled, simply named Joey Jones (Jashon Statham) is undermined by PTSD, dodging federal court martial for brash actions in Afghanistan. Tired of downing liquid food from a London soup kitchen, Jones makes a dash for opportunity, unlawfully snatching an open summer apartment and working gigs for Chinese mafia. Statham’s punchy style is much in play.
Benefactors of “protection” from the mafia crew run up debts, and in steps Jones to break bones in a cash exchange of limited legality. However vicious Jones becomes, his ruthless personality is dimmed by a local nun Christina (Agata Buzek), one of the women who helped him during his homeless stint.
Redemption is surprisingly moody, fitted with Statham’s brutal antagonism, but more of a dour acting piece for this action staple. Yes, Statham maintains his steadfast facial features as he roughs up London locals, yet shifts into tears as mental torment becomes overwhelming. As a character, Jones is inhibited by his past, including a broken marriage and daughter who knows little (if anything) of her father.
Jones is a character working not for himself, incapable of internal recovery, and instead rushes ahead with a new found career path to repay those he has wronged or deserve help. Redemption spins a contemporary Robin Hood tale around a feisty lead unafraid of conflict, throwing seemingly therapeutic punches between moments of settled emotion. Christina breaks her own religious oaths in a self-proclaimed “crazy” period of her life to calm a weary Jones, letting go of inhibitions.
Character interplay rises above Redemption’s slog, often repetitive as it seeks reasons to utilize its typecast star. Jones and Christina pair to create an interesting cross-section of lifestyles, differing ideals and purpose which bond them to each other as they each look for an escape. Seeing Statham veer of his violent form and Christina drop her religious instincts creates dynamic parallel worth watching.
At an hour and forty minutes, Redemption runs past its expiration, if producing the conclusion it was meant to have. Jones is undoubtedly reckless and knowingly ransacking his own happiness in the process. Build-up which feels mundane does typically saturate this gloomy, often darkness laid cinematography, feeling worn as it happens. Location work never feels enriched and utilizes iconic London phone booths for a bit of spotty landmarking, dimming foreign bred appeal.
Even with its penchant for rumbles, Redemption is one for the anti-Statham crowd, if only to prove the actor can exhibit range.
Brushed by teal and led on by oranges, director Steven Knight’s digital production is certainly low on saturation. Muted flesh tones and bleak hues dominate to rip Redemption from visual contention in order to serve narrative first. The Arri Alexa runs sharp, quite pure when allowed to be, although much of the film runs soft with focal trickiness.
Lionsgate runs an AVC encode over this source material, staying adjacent to imagery as support. Noise, barely evident in a handful of first act scenes, is resolved cleanly enough to pass as grain. There are few intrusions to resolution or detail when lens work locks itself in, uninhibited.
As such, a number of close-ups are stunning, particularly those basked in exterior light. Inside the office of the convent, a window pours in sunlight, affording images substantial depth plus brightness, showering screens with fidelity. Statham, although surrounded by shadows, is defined when Redemption settles down in tight.
An unfortunate side effect of these positives are black levels, which begin resoundingly well in establishing city shots and collapse entirely for street photography. Shadows are dried out, and seem afflicted by overall desaturation. Gained depth elsewhere is for naught, running this piece into a corner from which it cannot fight back. Too much of Redemption is underlit to merely let insufficient black levels pass without criticism.
Opening on a blast of LFE inside a middle east war zone, Redemption is not shy in application of audio. Gunfire and panicked streets are wonderful, if below high standards of mega budget blockbusters. Engines from overhead drones apply additional heft to the soundstage, and do so with a consistent, satisfying hum.
Elsewhere, fleshy punches act reasonably without embellishment, and London captures light ambiance. A flashback moment at 21:15 sends radio calls circling inside Jones’ head, while the rest of this DTS-HD mixture is left quaint. Dialog finds itself adequate and one of the few elements carrying most scenes.
One featurette crams bunches of information in a brief five minute frame, although character investigation is tepid. A trailer is barely of consequence.