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Redemption (October 7/04)

With his work in films like Collateral and Ray, Jamie Foxx has defied expectations and delivered one phenomenal performance after another - something that's certainly true of his work in Redemption.

Foxx stars as Stan "Tookie" Williams, one of the founding members of the Los Angeles based Crips gang. Sentenced to die for the murder of four people, Williams uses his time on death row to better himself. Meanwhile, a journalist named Barbara Becnel (Lynn Whitfield) is looking write a book on the history of the Crips - and though Williams is initially hesitant to speak with her for fear of being vilified, he soon warms up and the two are meeting regularly. Becnel eventually helps Williams get a series of children's books preaching the dangers of the gang lifestyle, something that eventually garners Williams a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Though there's ultimately something kind of bland about Redemption, there's no denying that Foxx's captivating performance effectively prevents the film from becoming all-out movie-of-the-week fodder. This is especially surprising given Foxx's propensity for overacting, particularly in films such as Bait and Booty Call (to be fair, it's highly unlikely anybody would've expected anything else out of something like Booty Call). But there's no denying that Foxx has turned a corner, delivering one solid performance after another.

With Redemption, Foxx convincingly steps into the shoes of Williams - a surprisingly complex character looking to atone for the years of violence in his past. And though it never becomes entirely possible to sympathize with this guy - he did kill several people in cold blood, after all - Foxx's performance at least allows us to understand what compelled Becnel to keep helping Williams. And though director Vondie Curtis-Hall isn't quite able to elevate the film to Foxx's level, Redemption is probably worth checking out solely for his amazing performance.

out of

About the DVD: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment presents Redemption with a crisp letterboxed transfer, along with a commentary track (featuring the real-life Barbara Becnel, director Curtis-Hall, and editor Terilyn Shropshire) and a pair of messages recorded by Stan "Tookie" Williams from a prison phone.