Redemption tells the story of Stan "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips L.A. street gang. Story follows his fall into gang-banging, his prison term, and his work writing children's ... See full summary »
Redemption tells the story of Stan "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips L.A. street gang. Story follows his fall into gang-banging, his prison term, and his work writing children's novels encouraging peace and anti-violence resolutions which earned him multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations. After exhausting all forms of appeal, Tookie was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison, California; he was declared dead on December 13, 2005 at 12:35 a.m. PST (08:35 UTC). Williams is the 12th person to be executed by California since it reinstated the death penalty in 1977. Written by
A poor opening should not detract from what is, in fairness, a fairly good film
STAR RATING: ***** The Works **** Just Misses the Mark *** That Little Bit In Between ** Lagging Behind * The Pits
A true story depicting the story of Crips founder Stanley 'Tookie' Williams, played by Jamie Foxx. Imprisoned on multiple counts of murder in the early 80s, the film takes off on the verge of Tookie's execution date, when he is visited by a journalist (Lynn Whitfield) eager to learn about the gang culture. Impressed by the intelligent and seemingly remorseful man she now sees in front of her, she is astonished when he asks for her help-in writing children's books warning of the dangers of gang life! This is the beginning of his path to true redemption and his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I got a little caught up last year in the big Tookie debate as the day of his execution dawned (or maybe just a little after it.) Ancient history now, but I thought it would still be interesting to check this film out and learn a little bit more about the story behind Tookie.
As the actor playing him, Foxx was one of the celebrity vocal exponents for granting clemency to Tookie in the closing days before his execution. I'm willing to bet he met the man and spoke with him to research his part a bit, and that his portrayal of the imprisoned man is fairly accurate. Tookie's crimes sound truly despicable and in the eyes of many his death by lethal injection may even have sounded too merciful, but I think what the film is trying to portray is an example of how the American prison system has worked in it's ability to 'rehabilitate' a criminal and make him into a more intelligent, if not entirely decent, human being. With Foxx in the lead role, I can't help but feel his personal politics on the matter may have had some say in how the script panned out, and at times it does feel a little one-sided, going to great lengths to show the new improved Tookie without going into too much detail of the atrocious crimes he committed, but then a few other films could be accused of that recently.
Quality wise, the film suffers from a bit of a disjointed opening, with too much use of flashy camera effects. Early on, this actually put me in such low expectations for the rest of the film that I actually found myself nodding off for a bit. But Foxx does deliver a compelling performance in the lead role and things do get more interesting as the film goes on. Plus it should be commended for wrapping the very heavy subject matter it's depicting up in just under an hour and a half. ***
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