Redemption

Redemption (2013)

Redemption (2013)

Crazy Joe comes home from the war in Afghanistan and promptly tries to forget it all in a haze of alcohol and drugs.  When fate hands him a chance to turn his life around, he must choose between the killer he was and the man he could be.  The murder of his friend, though, may make that choice for him.

Jason Statham is “Crazy Joe”, a homeless vet on the run from a court martial and the thugs that run the street where he and his only friend, Isabel, live.  Joe finds himself assuming another man’s identity – first to score drugs and cash, but later to try and turn his life around.  When Isabel is murdered, Joe must turn to the only other person who will help him, Sister Christina.  Joe finds work as an enforcer for the local mob, but tries to do the right thing anyway – walking the tightrope of doing bad things for the right reasons.  Ultimately, he finds himself forced to choose between revenge or truly changing who he is and who he has always been.

Who knew Jason Statham could act?  This is, hands down, his deepest and most meaningful role and he responds with gusto, delivering a character with depth and appeal that you can root for without becoming a shallow “feel good” story of redemption.  He carries the film, as he tends to, but without all of the usual Statham tropes.  Yes, we get to see him wreak his own brand of kung-fu justice, but it’s uncharacteristically secondary to the story.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of wasted potential here.  The resolution is ultimately unfulfilling because the writer didn’t have the same dedication that Statham had – after what sets up to be a great finale, full of heartbreaking salvation, the writer blinks and only goes halfway.  We come away feeling as empty as Statham’s lost and world-weary character.

A strong film that could have been better, this film shows just how underused Jason Statham’s talents are.  Which, considering some of the great films he’s been in, is surprising to say.

 

Stars: 4/5

 

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