Redemption Day review – an utterly charmless action thriller the longest day

January 12, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Film Reviews
1.5

Summary

January once again proves itself a cinematic dumping ground, as Redemption Day gets the new year off to a shoddy, charmless start.

1.5

Summary

January once again proves itself a cinematic dumping ground, as Redemption Day gets the new year off to a shoddy, charmless start.

Well, here we are again, folks. It’s well-known that January is basically a wasteland where cheap, generic movies crawl to die after failing miserably to be released at any other time, but they don’t have to be as charmless as Redemption Day, do they? Well, apparently they do, and Hicham Hajji’s just-about-competent action thriller has dopily ambled into home release after a brief theatrical run over the weekend. I know the days are all kind of blending into one at this point, but there’s no reason to lengthen them further with dreck of this variety.

It’s the actors I feel sorry for, stuck in a rote thriller about – check these off a list, if you like – global oil interests and Islamic fundamentalism. The characters would disappear if you looked at them side-on, so lacking is the personality or development any of them get, and the script by Hajji – a native of Morocco, where most of the action is set – alongside co-screenwriters Sam Chouia and Lemore Syvan could pass as pastiche if it knew how to crack a joke, which of course it doesn’t.

The geopolitics are shackled to a Taken-style plot in which a pretty American archaeologist (Serinda Swan) is kidnapped and held captive for a hefty ransom to be rescued by her badass Marine husband, Brad Paxton (Gary Dourdan), who has had enough combat experience to be tormented by it every night in what are, at least for us, lengthy flashback sequences to a mission gone wrong in Syria. You shouldn’t seek out Redemption Day hoping for a meaningful exploration of PTSD-afflicted soldiers trying to adjust to civilian life after being at war, though, since Brad is only tormented in the most clichéd of ways, and snaps right back into heroic man of action mode as soon as he thinks it’s required (which is, on balance, about an hour later than the movie needed it.)

It’s cookie-cutter movies like this that remind you how rare a good dumb movie like Taken actually is. There’s another late-career Liam Neeson vehicle out this week in the form of The Marksman, and despite not having seen it yet I can still predict with relative certainty that it’ll be better than Redemption Day. There’s just an art to it, and nothing about the stagey shootouts and charisma-trap characters here screams art to me. Perhaps mileage will vary, though I’m willing to bet not by much.

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