Saturday, March 6, 2021

Movie Reviews: Redemption Day

Redemption Day
directed by Hicham Hajji
It's rare to see films where the Black lead gets to be the hero, kick some butt, and win the girl. So I was predisposed to like a film that was set up to do just that. Unfortunately although this movie attempted to hit all those points, it was a bland mix of plots and themes that were better done in video games. 
The leading actor and actress did okay with what they had to work with I suppose but the writing and cinematography didn't offer them any support. I also had the sneaking feeling that a lot of the story was a compromise among the director, writer(s), and producer(s). There were too many plot lines left dangling like a worm on a hook. Some important themes started but ended abruptly. The film had a number of internal contradictions, the most obvious of which was that in my opinion the leading actor was a bit too old for his military rank. Gary Dourdan is extremely well preserved for his age but he is fifty-four years old. I don't think he could pass for much below forty.
My understanding is that even forty something is older than the normal age range for a Marine Captain. It seems as if Dourdan's character, if active duty, should have been a major or lieutenant colonel. Of course it's possible that some of the flashbacks were meant to be twenty years prior but they were ineptly done. In any event Marine Captain Brad Paxton (Dourdan) has returned home after some stuff went really wrong in Syria. Brad saved lives and prevented things from getting worse. He was decorated for his actions and is viewed well by the military brass. 
But the violence has left Brad with a bad case of PTSD. He zones out during the day and has nightmares when he sleeps. There are three people who are Brad's tethers to sanity.
 
These are his father/boxing coach (Ernie Hudson), his wife Kate (Serinda Swan), an up and coming archaeologist, and Kate's daughter, his stepdaughter. Kate and Brad have been working on making an addition to the family, but nothing yet.
When there's a find in Morocco concerning ancient man's first beginnings, it could prove some of Kate's theories to be true. Kate is invited to lead the dig. The ruins are very close to the Algerian border. Brad doesn't mind his wife traveling without him. He's a modern man. Besides her absence will give Brad more time to hang out with his Dad and stepdaughter.
But soon after Kate arrives at the site, which is indeed very close to the Algerian border, if not actually inside Algeria, she and some members of her group are kidnapped by an Algerian based Islamic terrorist organization. This group wants to make some noise and raise its profile among similar crews. They are apparently tired of getting the worst seats and least respect at the annual Terrorists R Us convention. Demanding ransom for or killing Americans is a good way to get better street cred. When Brad learns of Kate's kidnapping he leaves for Morocco, determined to find who did it and put a whupping on them. 
Was Kate set up by her guide? Who's really running this terrorist group? And what do the US Ambassador (Andy Garcia) and CIA/military attache (Martin Donovan) know about what's going on? The only man that Brad can trust is his friend Younes (Brice Bexter) , whose life he saved in Syria and who has good contacts with the Moroccan government.
So this is not a new story. It's just a cheaply made and mediocre one. Although you can believe that Brad and Kate love each other thanks to good work by Dourdan and Swan, almost all of the other actors seem to be looking at their watches and checking their bank accounts to see if their check cleared yet. The special effects were mediocre. The lead terrorist guy wasn't compelling. The movie didn't bring across the fact that terrorists don't think they are the bad guys. Much the opposite. Peter Berg's The Kingdom covered similar ground far more adeptly and in a manner that entertained.
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