On paper, 2013 British import Redemption (AKA Hummingbird) has a few things going for it. This small-budget thriller stars Jason Statham as war veteran Joseph Smith, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and now lives on the streets. One night, Joe is beaten by two thugs (one known as "The Taxman"), while his friend Isabel (Victoria Bewick) is kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Fleeing from his attackers, Joe stumbles upon a vacant apartment whose owner is gone for several months. Seizing this opportunity, Joe cleans up and looks for work, eventually finding it through a Chinese gangster who needs a drug runner and payment collector. All the while, Joe (who now goes by "Crazy Joe" and "Joey Jones") is hoping to redeem himself by helping out Sister Cristina (Agata Buzek), reconnecting with his wife and daughter, and eventually making an honest life for himself. Unfortunately, Joey learns that Isabel was murdered by a wealthy young businessman, so his final act as "Crazy Joe"? Revenge.
Unfortunately, most of the elements that tie Redemption together just aren't very strong. "Crazy Joe"'s discovery of a luxurious, vacant apartment is perhaps the most flagrant problem: not only does the wealthy owner have no security or house-sitter in place during his eight-month absence, but his phone message informs callers of his exact return date. Meanwhile, Joe squats there the entire time, even long after he earns more than enough money to score a fancy place of his own. Other elements don't add up either: his Chinese employer's ability to identify a murderer by vague description, the "Taxman"'s connection to everything, his relationship with the impossibly understanding Sister Cristina, and even the notion of buying homeless friends Coke Zero with their pizza. What, are they on a diet or something?
Joe's background as a veteran struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder is an interesting touch...but it's been done before, and more convincingly. In hindsight, it's virtually the most forgettable aspect of his character instead of his most driving motivation. A number of flashbacks and hallucinations along the way remind us of his condition, though he could've been homeless for almost any other reason (gambling, alcoholism, drug abuse) and it would'nt have changed very much. Thankfully, Redemption is far from preachy or political, but the vagueness of Joe's past life doesn't give this film the strong focus it needs.
Still, there's enough here to make Redemption worth a watch, especially if you're a fan of Statham. His committed performance as Joe gives the film a certain measure of confidence, even lending some weight to his relationship with the bird-like Sister Cristina...which, by all accounts, shouldn't be very believable by any stretch. The film's thick, heavy atmosphere is another plus, drenching many scenes in neon lights, deep shadows and strong, crisp detail. Had Redemption been given another script revision or a stronger focus, it would've been a more compelling experience worth revisiting several times. As it stands, it's just half of a good movie that you'll probably watch once and forget about within a few days. Lionsgate's Blu-ray package follows suit, serving up a strong A/V presentation and not much else.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
No problems to speak of. Redemption was largely shot at night under neon and natural light, giving the film a dark yet vibrant appearance during many sequences. Image detail and black levels are strong. This 1080p, 2.35:1 transfer reflects no flagrant digital imperfections such as compression artifacts, excessive DNR or interlacing. It's simply a good-looking film with a thick, attractive atmosphere. Small portions of Redemption (especially during the introduction) are comprised of "surveillance video" and stock combat footage, but these lesser-quality elements are either source material issues or deliberate decisions.
DISCLAIMER: These screen caps were compiled from promotional sources and do not represent Blu-Ray's native resolution.
Dialogue, music and sound effects are rendered nicely on this DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, especially during the film's sporadic scenes of action and suspense. Channel separation can be strong, though LFE activity and surround effects are occasionally less substantial than expected. There are several scenes where "Crazy Joe" experiences flashbacks or even hallucinations...and to be honest, a bit more audio creativity might have given us a more substantial connection to him. Still, Redemption sounds perfectly fine from a fundamental perspective, so I doubt that most viewers will find anything to complain about. Optional subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Spanish during the main feature only.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
The interface features basic and smooth navigation, though a number of trailers, logos and other advertisements must be skipped beforehand. A surround audio test is also included, as well as the ability to disable the menu's background music. This one-disc release is housed in one of those silly eco-friendly keepcases; also tucked inside is a matching matte-finish slipcover and a Digital Copy
Just a short promotional Behind-the-Scenes
featurette (5 minutes) and a handful of Trailers
for other Lionsgate titles. I, for one, would've really appreciated some in-depth comments from Jason Statham or writer/director Steven Knight, especially since it was the latter's first experience behind the camera.
Redemption is only half of a good movie, though it serves up a striking atmosphere and a committed, entertaining performance from Jason Statham. The story feels a little undercooked and is tied together by too many coincidences, clichés and loose ends, tripping up what would otherwise be a capable examination of interesting subject matter. Lionsgate's Blu-ray is a perfect match for the main feature, offering us a solid A/V presentation but almost nothing in the way of bonus features. Though it's still more thought-provoking than most of Statham's output during the last several years, Redemption's narrow appeal and lack of replay value doesn't make this disc a recommended blind buy. Rent It first.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs and writing in third person.