The story and dialogue failed to bring the electricity needed
REDEMPTION DAY (2021)
Redemption Day seemed like it could be a winner. A thrilling, politically charged action movie is just what I needed to shake up life in quarantine. The summary seemed like it was a twist on Taken, and if Redemption Day was going to be similar to Liam Neeson taking on bad guys, I was looking forward to it!
This was writer and director Hicham Hajji’s first feature film. As a first time director, this attempt was not as awful as it could have been, but it certainly won’t blow anyone away. I couldn’t detect any significant style from Hajji in his first outing. The only signature I could discern was a tendency to feature lengthy, drawn out overhead shots of cars driving down roads. The opening scene followed a small convoy of cars down a dirt path for what felt like five minutes. Indeed throughout the movie there are eight or nine shots like this where we watch a car drive down a road for an obscene amount of time. This movie felt a little clunky, like Hajji couldn’t quite find the right pace and tension. For a first outing it was fine, and hopefully he’ll improve a bit in his next feature.
Redemption Day’s plot sounded promising. War hero Brad Paxton is married to archeologist Kate. He suffers from PTSD due to his time being deployed. One incident in particular, where his unit was pinned down by gunfire, is revisited in a series of flashbacks splayed throughout the movie. Kate’s job takes her to Morocco on a dig of an ancient city. While on the job she is kidnapped and held for ransom by a group of terrorists. They try to spice up the story a bit with some wandering side plot where the United States is blocking any type of help for Kate because of some oil deal. That plot line is never fully developed or explored, and the tension they hoped for falls flat. I’m all for a good abduction plot but Redemption Day just doesn’t put everything together into a tense or thrilling package.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The acting in Redemption Day was unfortunately not very good. Gary Dourdan was the lead, playing ex-soldier Brad Paxton. He was going for the macho, tough guy persona with a soft spot for his family, but instead he came across as someone who seems like they have no emotions at all. Dourdan delivers most lines monotone with not a whole lot of expression. Serinda Swan’s turn as Kate fares a bit better, but she suffers from a lack of chemistry with Dourdan which makes the foundation of the movie a bit rough. I’ve seen more of a love connection between inanimate objects. Even the actors who are a bit more well known, like Andy Garcia, suffer from clunky pacing and dumb dialogue. All in all the acting left much to be desired.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The visual effects were not awful. The explosions were somewhat believable, and the gun fight sequences were adequate. There were a few instances where people were shot and the blood that was spewed was a bit unrealistic. Overall, it didn’t distract me from the action that was happening on screen. The design was also adequate and shooting partially in Morocco helped to give a more authentic feel to the movie.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The music was handled by Sacha Chaban who has an impressive resume. Unfortunately there were several times throughout the movie where the music simply did not match what was happening. During the long shots of cars driving there was usually a large swell of epic music accompanying it. That would be fine if they were off on an epic adventure for fun, but it didn’t hit quite right as they were off to rescue Brad’s wife from a group of terrorists. The score itself was fine, but where it was inserted in each scene didn’t add much to the movie. In fact at some points it detracted from what was going on, because I was trying to figure out why the music sounded like the background music you’d find in a travel vlog.
Redemption Day had lofty goals of being a tense political, abduction movie but fell quite short. The story and dialogue failed to bring the electricity needed for such a movie. The acting wasn’t able to bring this mediocre script to life, creating somewhat one dimensional characters who I cared very little about. The clunky pacing ensured that Redemption Day would be a forgettable action movie laced with some political drama as an afterthought.
Saban Films will release REDEMPTION DAY In Theaters January 8, 2020 and On Digital and On Demand January 12, 2020.