Redemption Day (2021)

Gary Dourdan goes from CSI to some serious major butt kicking in this action thriller from producer turned first-time director Hicham Hajji.

Brad Paxton is an ex-Marine who, despite some casualties in his last mission in Morocco, has earned accolades and has returned home. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder but makes the most of his time at home with his wife Kate and his daughter. He also has been spending time with his father, who has also been helping him through his time. However, Kate, who works as an archaeologist, has come across a major discovery and while Brad has just come home, he supports her doing her job and tells her to go.

Kate arrives in Morocco and finds what she is looking for. However, when she discovers she is on the border of Algeria, she inexplicably finds herself kidnapped with her guide by Jaafar El Hadi, the leader of an insurgent terrorist group. When Brad learns of the kidnapping via the news, he decides to head to Morocco and hatch a plan to rescue her. However, he will need some help and finds some in the form of local agent Younes Laalej. Things will get complicated when Kate is revealed to be pregnant, which does not faze El Hadi one bit. Will Brad successfully rescue Kate in time, or will it be too late?

There is a very fascinating trend with action films these days and this film proves to have the new sense of “action movie” trope. Back in the 80’s, action films had its heroes virtually invincible and very tough. They took no nonsense and go to extremes when necessary. Today’s action heroes are not this former robotic type, but more human. They are flawed but are willing to do the right thing no matter what it takes. Take for instance, our lead character of Brad Paxton, a former Marine with PTSD, who is thrown back in action to rescue his wife. Brad takes a more strategically planned approach to the rescue rather than just blow away countless no-names to get to the bad guy.

And that’s what Hicham Hajji, a Moroccan-born producer, does here in his first film as director. He gives us a politically charged thriller with a flawed hero who uses more brains in his attempt to rescue his wife. The film also takes away the stereotype of all Middle Easterns being portrayed as the villains as seen in countless films during the old days. To partner him with a Moroccan agent who is willing to prove himself to be an asset and helps Brad with a smart strategy for the rescue.

Gary Dourdan gets a chance to prove himself as an action lead and succeeds here. Bringing more humanity to the character, Dourdan’s Brad looks to have the smarts and skills to succeed. However, if this film was made in the 80’s, it would be all about how many kills our hero can pull off. Here, it is more of an intelligence to the mission and when we finally see Dourdan in action, he shows his mettle, using a combination of firepower, boxing skills, and some Jiujitsu in his arsenal. We could be looking at a potential action star here and if things go right, we could even see a potential return to the character with the film’s ending having a bit of openness to it.

Redemption Day is not only Gary Dourdan’s ticket to be a future action hero, but one who is truly human with a politically charged script by Hicham Hajji. A good way to start 2021!

WFG RATING: B+

Saban Films presents a H Films production in association with Redemption Films. Director: Hicham Hajji. Producers: Hicham Hajji and David Zilberberg. Writer: Hicham Hajji. Cinematography: Philip Lozano.

Cast: Gary Dourdan, Serinda Swan, Samy Naceri, Brice Bexter, Andy Garcia, Ernie Hudson, Martin Donovan, Don Bigg, Robert Knepper

The film will be released in select theaters on January 8, 2021 followed by an On Demand and Digital release on January 12, 2021.

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