January 17th, 2014

REDEMPTION (2013) **

Jason Statham stars as an alcoholic homeless guy with a shady past named Joe. One night while on the run from a drug dealer, he sneaks into a swanky apartment and hides. When he learns the owner won’t be home for a few months, he decides to stick around. He gets a job at a Chinese restaurant and when the mobster owner sees that Statham can handle himself, he hires him as an enforcer. Statham uses his newfound cash to pay back the homeless shelter who fed him as he tries to make up for past misdeeds.

Redemption falls into the Dramatic Statham category. Like The Bank Job and Blitz, it’s concerned less about action and more about character. And Statham does have an interesting character arc in this one as he goes from crazy homeless dude to modern day Robin Hood.

But while I realize it’s a more character-driven film, I wish the character hadn’t driven so slowly. It hits all the beats you’d expect from a Jason Statham vehicle, but it does so in a heavy-handed manner. Yes, it’s more dramatic than the usual Stats flick, but it’s also missing a key ingredient: Fun.

I’ll admit; Redemption does some interesting things with the traditional Statham formula, but it takes its sweet time getting to where it’s going. I liked the rapport between Joe and the nun. They have an interesting dynamic together. But while there are many interesting aspects to the film, that doesn’t exactly make it successful.

Even though Redemption didn’t quite work, I did find myself thinking about it days after I watched it. At least it’s not easily disposable, I’ll give it that. But ultimately, it’s one of those films that’s more fun to think about later than it is to actually sit and watch.

AKA: Crazy Joe. AKA: Hummingbird.

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (2013) ***

Anchorman was one of the funniest movies of the last ten years. The idea of bringing everyone back for a sequel was both awesome and horrifying. On one hand, it would be great to see Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and David Koechner together again. On the other hand, comedy sequels are a bit tricky. Nobody wants another Caddyshack 2. And as far as expectations go; Anchorman 2 falls somewhere in the middle. It isn’t nearly as funny as the original, but it still gets a lot of mileage from its terrific cast.

The plot has Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) leaving his wife (Christina Applegate) when she gets a job as anchor of the Nightly News. Ron spirals into alcohol and depression (he briefly becomes an announcer at Sea World) before being picked to anchor the world’s first 24 hour news network. He then assembles his news team back together and they set out to conquer the world of cable news.

The film starts off awkwardly and takes some time to find its footing. It eventually has a good run of jokes once Burgundy gets back behind the news desk. There is also a hysterical dinner table scene as well as a hilarious love scene. Then for whatever reason, the film gives us a painfully unfunny subplot about Ron going blind and nursing a baby shark back to health (don’t ask) and things go back downhill.

It was here when I started losing my faith in the film. I was going to chalk it up as a ** ½ near miss and call it a day. Then lo and behold, the film climaxes with an epic newscaster fight that puts the one in the original to shame. Seeing so many celebrities fight it out was a real treat. I don’t want to spoil all the cameos for you, but the film proves the old Video Vacuum adage: “If you’re torn between giving a movie ** ½ or *** and it features Harrison Ford turning into a were-hyena; give it ***”.

One thing that did bother me was a lot of the out-of-place pop culture references. I mean the movie takes place in 1980, but there are Ghostbusters and MTV jokes for whatever reason. Don’t get me wrong. I did laugh when Ron gets mad and Jean Claude Van Damme’s screaming face appears in his eyes. It’s funny, but Bloodsport didn’t come out until 1988! Other than that, I liked it okay I guess.