Saturday, 21 March 2015

Hummingbird (aka Redemption, UK 2014)


Jason Statham is an ex-special forces veteran...oh Christ! how may times have we seen and heard this before. I'm starting to think Statham is the British equivalent of Steven Seagal always playing servicemen. Believe it or not this isn't a balls to wall action flick with lots of death, oh on not entirely anyway. Come on seriously, you think you'll ever see a Statham movie where there is no killing?

This film centres around a homeless ex-special forces soldier (Joe) who accidentally manages to break into a wealthy business man's home to escape some thugs. Straight away this does actually lead me ask why he didn't just beat up the thugs seeing as later on we find out he can fight really well (surprisingly). Again by accident Joe discovers this rich dude is travelling so he decides to stay and kinda pretends he knows the guy, well he says he's his gay lover actually.

The film starts off and continues down a very thoughtful and emotional route for a while at least. We see how fragile and vulnerable Statham's character is, he has a drinking problem, he doesn't know how to handle money that well, he lives in terrible guilt over the loss of some fellow soldiers whilst he was in Afghanistan plus he feels bad for letting down his young daughter and ex-wife. He finds solace in a young nun whom he starts to fall in love with slowly. This nun helps out at a homeless shelter/soup kitchen where Joe would go for food and help, so he knows her (but she only starts to feel for him when he comes into money?). At first Joe is doing wrong by taking money, clothes and possessions from the house where he broke into to but he tries to better himself with it. He wants to help his fellow homeless friends and provide for his ex and daughter and he does this by getting a job in a Chinese restaurant. He kinda has to though because he was using a stolen credit card from the rich guys house and that could easily attract attention.

Oh and the films title refers to the hummingbirds Joe seems to hallucinate about or dream about when he's having nightmarish visions from his military days. Not sure if its because he's drunk or mentally broken and I'm not sure why hummingbirds but there you go.

So what we have here is a sentimental looking drama with Statham. Well it was until he starts working in the Chinese where for some reason, some how, he got the owners attention with his fighting skills. So now every time the restaurant has trouble with louts they call on their rockard dishwasher. I still don't get how working in a Chinese restaurants kitchen would enable a person, at some point, to show their clout in a brawl, how would that ever come up? Anyway this Chinese is run by a crime syndicate, naturally, and Joe becomes their top enforcer. All of sudden we're back in Statham country and beating the shit outta everyone.
















So basically Statham starts off as a good character who gets a break and a bit of luck. He is doing illegal things by living in this guys house and using his clothes, car and gear but he's being respectful with them, he's not abusing anything, he looks after the man's house and he's bettering himself by working. So even though he's doing bad things he's still a good guy, you still see him as a good person who's trying to do right in an alternative way. He now has this honest job but eventually becomes a bad guy by accepting illegal work for the syndicate doing anything for money, getaway driver, delivering drugs, collecting payments and even human trafficking! We learn he has no morals...but he's saving all this money for his ex and daughter, he buys food for the homeless shelter, he gives money to the nun and in general helps the less fortunate (he doesn't kill anyone, doesn't hurt innocent folk).

So really you could say Statham's character is a bit of a Robin Hood type, taking from the rich to give to the poor. But he should know better really because of his military background, a soldier should have strong morals, good ethics. But when faced with the horrors he has seen could that in turn make him harder? maybe less emotional and more robotic in certain situations? Dealing with the crime syndicate seems to be an everyday job for Joe, he just does his job and never questions it, so is that down to his military experiences or simply because he wants to help certain people before the inevitable happens?

There are a lot of moral implications  in this story, decisions, redemption, revenge and consequences. There is also a reasonable amount of head bashing and fisticuffs which is Statham's forte, but its not mindless violence, there are reasons behind it. The sub plot about an aristocratic playboy going around beating up and murdering escorts flows into Joe's story and provides the catalyst for his rage and subsequent final decision between love and friendship. Its actually this sub plot that fuels Joe's reason in the end to help out the crime syndicate doing an unpleasant job (human trafficking) in order for important information on the killer. So again even though we know Joe will still do a highly illegal and immoral task, we know its still for a good reason.

This is definitely one of Statham's better films and performances in recent years...even though it still involves ass-kicking. There is a touch of artistic license being used though. Joe manages to break into the rich guys house very easily and there aren't any alarms? its amazing how this blokes clothes fit Statham perfectly, he does use the blokes credit card withdrawing quite a lot yet that is never flagged?? And I'm still not sure why local thugs would ruff up and mug homeless people, what could homeless people possibly have of value? Bit of a slow starter admittedly and the ending feels too anti-climatic, nice tension building but then falls flat on its face. Where on earth were the police and how was he not picked up when drunk in the street?!

6.5/10