3/5   US title: Redemption
dir-scr Steven Knight
prd Guy Heeley, Paul Webster
with Jason Statham, Agata Buzek, Vicky McClure, Siobhan Hewlett, Benedict Wong, Michelle Lee, David Bradley, Victoria Bewick, Christian Brassington, Ger Ryan, Darren Lynch, Youssef Kerkour
release UK/US 28.Jun.13
13/UK Lionsgate 1h40
Avenging angel: Statham

statham wong bradley
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Hummingbird In a more dramatic role than usual, Statham gets a chance to flex his acting muscles along with his bulging physicality. And he's not half bad. So it's a shame that the film itself doesn't quite come together, mashing a variety of plots and issue-based themes into a story that, while pointed, ultimately feels rather pointless.

On the run from military police, Joey (Statham) is living rough in London when he realises that the house he has broken into will be empty for eight months. Taking over the resident's identity and bank account, he decides to help Cristina (Buzek), the Polish-born nun who feeds the homeless from a Covent Garden soup kitchen. He also gets a job in a Chinese restaurant, where his bosses (Wong and Lee) notice his muscly brawn and put him to work as a mob goon. Meanwhile, he stalks his ex-wife (McClure) and young daughter.

It's nice to see Statham play a character with a bit of complexity, although Knight's script lays on the moral dilemma thickly, as Joey tries to atone for his wrongdoings by putting himself through detox (he sees visions of hummingbirds) and helping Cristina. And she tries to make up for her failings by rather improbably falling for him. Meanwhile, Knight piles on social issues from human trafficking to military horrors, muddying the plot to the point where nothing is very clear.

The film has a dark, moody atmosphere that's often genuinely creepy as it sloshes through London's underbelly, much as Knight did in his scripts for Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises. Even if the direction and editing are uneven, the film looks beautiful thanks to Chris Menges' dark, lush cinematography. And there are moments of bright emotion and well-played comedy as well. Although the funniest thing is that the flat owner's suits fit Statham so perfectly.

But there are a lot of serious things going on here. Joey's friend Isobel (Bewick) is now working as a prostitute, and his ex-wife isn't doing much better. This kind of makes Joey's obsession with Cristina feel a bit off-balance. And in the end, Cristina's own journey emerges as the much more compelling story here. By facing up to her past, she sends herself into a crisis of faith that changes her in an intriguingly subtle way.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, innuendo 23.Apr.13

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