Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2008
Directed by
David Mamet
109 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
4 stars


Synopsis: “There is no situation that you could not escape from. There is no situation that you could not turn to your advantage.” Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejofor) teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in a small academy. The business is losing money and whilst Mixed Martial Arts prizefighting would offer relief, Mike refuses because it’s not a real fight. When he comes to the rescue of movie star Chet Frank (Tim Allen) he’s sucked into a con that puts him into a real fight and a real test of his principles and character.

David Mamet has a very distinct philosophy on writing, direction, character and action and he’s found a near-perfect vehicle for all his obsessions in Redbelt. There’s a con. There’s a visceral hatred of Hollywood and the insincerity that goes with it. There’s his fascination with what defines masculinity. Basically, this is Mamet distilled. And unlike some of his earlier films, the good guy isn’t just a victim or someone who snaps and does something foolish. Here, even more so than in his previous film, Spartan (2004), is a guy who deals with the events around him and considers his actions. Mike Terry is an heroic character, not because he can beat up a lot of people (although he demonstrates that ability multiple times through the film) but because he chooses his actions. He might not always come out the better for them, but they’re his choices, not ones forced upon him.

As is typical of Mamet, the plot of Redbelt is intricate and moves fast. The way in which Mike is trapped into a situation in which entering a prizefight seems like the only way out of his situation is handled deftly. The twists and turns leave you spinning at times, but it all holds up. It’s well constructed to place Mike in a seemingly unwinnable situation. No matter what move he makes he’s going to lose something, but given his belief that there is always a way out, always a way to turn a losing fight into a victory, the tension is held as to whether he’ll give in, snap, or find a way out right up until the end. On every level, the film examines the nature of fighting, of winning, and the philosophy of its hero. It’s well-paced, and as you watch the walls closing in on Mike you’re just waiting for him to find the move that’ll swing things back for him.

A film about moral fibre, character over situation, and holding true to things that are important even if they cost you, Redbelt is both an entertaining action film (the fights are beautifully staged) and a fascinating work of personal philosophy.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst