Hummingbird [Redemption] Movie Review
Jason Statham takes a darker role than usual in a gritty London drama that never quite seems sure of itself, as writer-turned-director Knight mashes several huge social issues with a hint of action and a rather awkward romance. It's always intriguing, and has several jaw-dropping moments along the way, but ultimately leaves us wondering why Knight made the film at all.
Statham plays Joey, an ex-soldier on the run from the military police. Living homeless in central London, he breaks into a sexy loft flat and discovers that the resident will be away for eight months. So he assumes his identity, borrows his bank account and starts his life over with a job in a Chinese restaurant. Then his bosses (Wong and Lee) notice how good he is in a fight, and give him a high-paying job as a mob goon. With his new wealth, he starts helping out Cristina (Buzek), the Polish-born nun who feeds the homeless in Covent Garden. As they begin a strange friendship, he also contacts his bitter ex-wife (McClure) and young daughter.
As he did in his scripts for Dirty Pretty Things and Eastern Promises, Knight reels off the social issues in London's underbelly: illegal immigrants, human trafficking, gang violence, desperate prostitution, post-traumatic stress. But the real story here is Joey's redemption, as pointedly symbolised by the hummingbirds that flit through his drug-detox dreams. As he tries to help Cristina in a variety of sometimes contrived ways, she responds by improbably falling for him. Meanwhile, he spends a lot of time searching for a missing friend (Bewick) while also trying to make things up to his ex.
Knight gives the film a creepy tone that looks terrific, thanks to luxuriantly dark cinematography by the gifted Chris Menges. There are some superb moments of comical relief (such as when Joey invites Cristina to a photographic exhibition of naked men), as well as some real emotion. But with Joey going in so many directions, it's Cristina's complex crisis of faith that becomes the most interesting element in the film. And perhaps focussing on her from the start would have made it hang together more coherently. Because with so much going on, we just keep expecting Statham to turn into action man.