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British Film Review: Hummingbird (Redemption)
Film Review By Paul Foreman
If one was seeking a new twist on the 'damaged ex-special forces soldier spurned by society' tale. Making his love interest a nun, is not the first thing that springs to mind. Yet that's the daring premise of Hummingird, the latest outing for the London's very own cockney man-thumper, Jason Statham.
Traumatised by a savage tour of duty in Afghanistan, ex-commando Joey (Statham) finds himself reduced to living on London's streets, preyed upon by thieves who 'tax' homeless drug addicts. When Joey stands up for his street-girlfriend and gets a vicous beating for his trouble. He literally crashes into a banker's abandoned apartment and is handed a chance to steal his identity, rebuild and refinance his shattered life.
Sounds like we're on familiar territory? Damaged special forces veteran, given one beating too many..? Well you'd be mistaken. This is precisely when Hummingbird starts doing impressive loop the loops and heading for the nectar behind enemy lines. Joey's assuming of his landlord's identity beautifully backfires as he attracts the attention of some poisonously nosy neighbours. Forcing this tatooed man-mountain into a cameo as his landlord's jealous boyfriend. Furthermore, after a brief stint of retail therapy in his off-licence, Joey decides his true calling is to help those homeless pals he's left behind. Which brings him back into contact with, you guessed it, Sister Cristina, who soon becomes Joey's emotional, moral and cultural foil.
Fast paced, endlessly entertaining and with a plot that sidesteps left and right like a British Lion in a test decider. Hummingbird is never short on originality. Statham punches his way through the action like a man set on beating out a new genre. But when pitted against sanctimonious Christina, it gives the film a chance to breathe and for Stratam to mine a deep vein in sarcasm. Indeed, when Statham is stretched in these off-piste moments, the film is all the richer for it.
Agata Buzek as Cristina is never less than a moral titan in a body as brittle as a principle ballerina's as she struggles to bring Joey to heel. The final star in this film's holy trinity is London itself. When Joey's talent for violence plucks him from a honest day's grafting to a far better paid employent in Soho's underworld, it's not the tired formulaic 'geezer-in-a-boozer' we've seen in every gangster flick since The Long Good Friday. But rather a chillingly realistic gangland of people smuggling, sado masochistic prostitution and triad gangs brilliantly portrayed by Benedict Wong and Michelle Lee. Victoria Bewick does sterling work as a homeless crack addict, tossed between high rollers and soho low-lifes. Whilst Vicky McClure has to be the first special forces ex-wife to deliver a coop de grace with tins of food in a supermarket aisle.
Cinematographer Chris Menges deserves special mention for making London's skyline as iconic as New York's as well as capturing a snapshot of the horrors of Arghanistan and the brutality of Soho's triads. Indeed, the film's most haunting shot takes place in silence and in the back of an articulated truck's freezer.
Writer/Director Stephen Knight certainly has earned his spurs with this pounding non-stop action thriller. If anything, his script has to sprint to keep up. Leaving little space for reflection on how desensited we've become both to the consequences of the Afghan war as well as to the brutality of the sex trade.
Hummingbired (Redemption) is in cinemas 28th June 2013
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