Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 19, 2023)
2022’s Detective Knight: Rogue began a direct to video trilogy. 2023’s Detective Knight: Redemption continues this journey.
The “Christmas Bomber” (Paul Johansson) leads a reign of terror across New York City. He and his Santa-clad minions attack various institutions and cause anarchic mayhem.
Currently incarcerated, disgraced Detective James Knight (Bruce Willis) gets a chance to redeem himself after the Bomber leads a jailbreak. Police Captain Anna Shea (Miranda Edwards) frees Knight if he agrees to pursue the Bomber so Knight heads back on a mission.
If you scour this site, you will not find a review for Rogue. I guess Lionsgate never offered me a review copy, but since they tossed Redemption my way, I decided to give it a look.
Honestly, I don’t even recall if I felt aware Redemption acted as a sequel when I requested it. In any case, nothing about the movie relies on foreknowledge of Rogue to follow, as it comes with a fairly standalone tale – and some flashbacks to recap the first film anyway.
The most pressing question relates to the film’s lead actor. As anyone who reads this review will likely know, Willis was forced to retire from acting in summer 2022 due to a condition that impacts his ability to communicate.
Willis completed a bunch of projects before that time, since we continue to find new releases nearly six months later – with more on the way. The well will eventually run dry, but not yet.
Other circa 2021-22 Willis films went to extremes to hide the actor’s declining abilities. Redemption felt like it offered more of a challenge because Knight appeared to exist as the story’s focal point.
And he does – in theory. In execution, though, Willis spends much more time off the screen than on.
For a movie titled Detective Knight: Redemption, Detective Knight doesn’t get much to do. The movie revolves around a melange of semi-related domains that leave Knight out of the picture the vast majority of the time.
We understand the necessity for this due to Willis’s status, but Knight’s regular absence makes Redemption a bizarre tale. Shouldn’t a movie about a specific cop actually involve that cop most of the time?
I would love to know if Redemption - and the other two Knight movies, which I assume also barely feature Willis – were written with the actor’s restrictions in mind or if the filmmakers adapted the screenplays to accommodate him.
Whatever the case, it doesn’t work, and Willis seems woefully weak during his precious few onscreen moments. Willis reads his lines in a wooden, detached manner with none of his trademark spark.
Even if we ignore Willis’s weaknesses, Redemption flops. Whether due to the need to hide Willis or simply bad writing and directing, this film rambles and lacks coherence.
Actually, Redemption starts with some promise. The opening reminds us of flicks like Point Break and The Dark Knight, as the bank assault by masked criminals shows room for an exciting tale.
After that, however, Redemption quickly descends into sub-mediocrity. It spends far too much time on pointless character domains and too little on the main plot.
Again, I get that the film can’t devote much real estate to its title role given Willis’s inability to deliver even the basic level of competence as an actor. Nonetheless, Redemption fails to find engaging ways to work around him.
This leaves us with a slow, confused narrative that can’t fulfill its basic goals. It comes with a loose, random story that fails to capitalize in the basic “cop chases robbers” tale at its heart. This makes Redemption a tedious and excitement-free thriller.