This must be the "trying" portion of Jason Statham's career.
The British star almost always kicks ass in movies, but his more recent output—films like THE BANK JOB, SAFE and now REDEMPTION—are solid efforts that seem to have more on their mind than just furious punches or oiled-up fights. That's not to say that REDEMPTION is a huge departure from his other movies; however, it is a quieter film for Statham, one where he actually gets to play a character and not just Guy Who Delivers Kicks to Faces. Statham's Joey Jones is a homeless alcoholic struggling with crippling war-time flashbacks that keep him on the streets and estranged from his ex-wife and daughter. The title isn't subtle or misleading; the movie is all about Statham's journey of recovery and self-improvement. By chance, he gets a new job, a new home and a literal new life, but the drama of the film is the character deciding what to do with his second chance.
It is a Jason Statham movie though, so of course he eventually becomes involved with London's criminal underground. He get to bash skulls every now and then, including a scene where he takes on a couple henchmen with just a spoon, but THE TRANSPORTER movies this is not. (Though ironically he does end up as a driver and enforcer for the mob at one point.) Instead the majority of REDEMPTION focuses on Statham's relationship with a young nun at the local homeless shelter and their struggle with religion, faith and moral ambiguity. There's a little romance. A few tears. Even some ballet. Just typical Statham stuff.
It's a welcome change of pace for the actor, who clearly is looking to stretch his abilities a bit. Joey's story and his relationship with the woman of the cloth mostly works; however, the film's pacing is a bit uneven. I'm all for character building, but there are slower stretches that focus too much on repetitive drama and could use another round of editing. As it is, REDEMPTION is nothing earth-shattering as a character study or an action movie, but it's a solid enough film.
REDEMPTION is Jason Statham's attempt to showcase his acting chops while not straying too far from his "genre." If you're a Statham fan I think it's worth a rental or cable TV viewing. Just don't expect THE TRANSPORTER 4.
Extra Tidbit: REDEMPTION held the much less generic title HUMMINGBIRD for its original UK release.