Hummingbird aka Redemption (2013)

(On Cable TV, June 2014) At a point when nearly everyone knows what “a Jason Statham movie” is supposed to be, here comes Redemption to show something just slightly different enough to be interesting, although not necessarily likable. It starts like many other Statham films, with the actor playing a down-on-his-luck ex-military protagonist scrambling to survive. But then an exceptionally lucky break allows the lead character to stop running and start improving his situation. Alas, this doesn’t translate in sweetness and light: our hero takes up a job as an enforcer and starts filling up his fridge with bundles of cash. Whatever emotion he’s got left are spent avenging a murdered friend and seducing a preposterously attractive nun. That plot summary fits with Statham’s righteous-avenger persona, but it’s the ending that sets Redemption apart, one where the character voluntarily accepts the end of his summer in the sun, and his fatalistic return to obscurity. Various odds and ends make the rest of the film more uncomfortable than it needed to be: the seducing-nun subplot is a lot less fun than you’d expect (it smacks of an exploitation device in a film that tries to be something more serious), there’s an off-putting human-trafficking sequence that causes more cringes than illumination, and the ending seems to reach for pathos that the rest of the film hasn’t justified. Perhaps worst of all is how slow and occasionally dull Redemption can be. Even as writer/director Steven Knight’s conscious attempt to tackle deeper themes within a framework immediately familiar to Statham and his fans, it doesn’t quite have the grace or the compelling hooks required to keep sustained interest throughout. Redemption is somewhat audacious, sure, even beautifully shot at times and symbolically deeper than anything we’d expect (all the while showing why Statham is both a limited and charismatic actor at once) but it doesn’t add up to something more than “interesting”.

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