Redemption

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Post-Traumatic Stress Diss-Order

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Starring: Jason Statham, Agata Buzek

Review written by Robert D. Patrick

Jason Statham comes with baying gunfire, the expression of an Easter Island statue, and a jaw stubble reminiscent of Marvel’s Punisher. One does not often shoehorn the herculean actor’s block-like frame under the hood of a movie that demands bruised introspection and barbed self-exploration. In Redemption, director Steven Knight wants to craft a picture that examines the emotional fallout of veterans coming home from war. The hallow, strained emptiness of living between two worlds. The night terrors and the molar grinding severity of post-traumatic stress disorder. All of the aforementioned subjects are corrugated, thorny cargo that men and women pull through the mud of their distressed psyches everyday. To address them, using one of action’s biggest stars, is a volley of inspiration.

So when Redemption turned out to be little more than a brawny action flick that flexed its biceps in front of its audience, the wheels on the Trojan horse croaked and squealed to the point of a vociferous reverberation. When the mask of existentialism was removed, Redemption turned out to be a hoarse, toothy crime thriller where Statham rapped his knuckles against somebody’s mandible so many times it sounded like he was playing a box drum.

In Knight’s frayed opus, Statham plays Joey Jones, a homeless man with an eradicated sense of self, whose sole goal is to plow through the weary streets of London. Staggering, bedraggled and misted with booze, Jones mushes through his life while anchoring wounds from his past. Memories spatter across his brain, enabling him to feel a heightened sense of guilt and despair. Emotional malaise asphyxiates him until one day, while being chased by ornery batch of hooligans, he escapes into an empty flat. Rustling through paperwork and mail, he finds, to his delight, that the renter of the home wont be back for some time. This convenient and serendipitous event leads Joey to shave his head, dress in a dapper fashion, and eat healthily. Because a shower fixes all problems, in the world of Steven Knight’s screenplay.

Once Joey assumes the identity of another man’s wardrobe – apparently everyone’s outfits in the Newsies – our protagonist feels great again. This film’s exploration of post traumatic stress disorder is dense, exploitative and recklessly uninformed. To kick alcoholism, it takes one scene. To go from living on the streets to being adept in a workplace, it takes one scene. From being a hazy, skulking shell of a man to being a colossal powerhouse of martial arts capabilities, it takes one scene.

Right.

Being cavalier about PTSD is an upsetting reality in Knight’s vacuous odyssey. The flashbacks and night terrors are soon abandoned, and Joey becomes a sleek fighting machine that whirs around in nice cars and speaks salaciously to women. The screenplay is insensitive, poorly written, and, from an editing perspective, a total disaster. Redemption looks like it was pieced together by a ceiling fan.

Aside from the upsetting lack of seriousness given to the central character’s mental health, Redemption also flirts with temperamental subjects such as religion and sex, which, given the film’s surrender of maturity, it does not deserve to address from a football field away. The makers of this film cant do better, but you can by seeing something else.

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Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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