Combustible Celluloid
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With: Gary Dourdan, Serinda Swan, Andy Garcia, Brice Bexter, Martin Donovan, Ernie Hudson, Sami Naceri, Don Bigg, Lilia Hajji, Robert Knepper
Written by: Sam Chouia, Hicham Hajji, Lemore Syvan
Directed by: Hicham Hajji
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 100
Date: 01/08/2021

Redemption Day (2021)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Fight for Wife

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Attempting to address real-world political and moral concerns, the action movie Redemption Day instead comes across as utterly generic and low-rent, with no surprises or thrills, and little emotional engagement.

U.S. Marine captain Brad Paxton (Gary Dourdan) suffers nightmares of a failed mission in Syria. Meanwhile, his archeologist wife Kate (Serinda Swan) has made a major discovery and heads to Morocco to begin a dig. Unfortunately, she unwittingly trespasses into enemy territory, and she and two of her colleagues are kidnapped by a terrorist group.

Brad springs into action to rescue his wife. Meanwhile, a shady U.S. Ambassador (Andy Garcia) tries to keep his personal interests intact, and the terrorists discover a secret about Kate that they exploit for an even higher ransom demand.

Moroccan-born director and co-writer Hicham Hajji gets points for trying to shed light on events in Syria, Morocco, and Algeria, and for trying to make a statement about the United States's lust for oil. He also gets a few points for avoiding any kind of gung-ho blind patriotism. But all of these things are uncomfortably wrapped up in a bland, lifeless action movie, which resorts to dull, shaky-cam thrills and cheap-looking gunshot wounds.

One scene in particular gets close to offensive, as it tries to make us believe that Kate is going to be raped, but instead pulls a "twist." Both Dourdan and Swan are likable enough in their roles, but the roles themselves are flatlined, mainly expressed in soft, serious tones throughout, without any nuance or depth.

In supporting roles, Ernie Hudson and Martin Donovan are serviceable, doing the kind of thing they regularly do. Andy Garcia at least gets to chew on some scenery, chewing on Cuban cigars as a bonus. In the end, however, Redemption Day is, sadly, unredeemable.

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