DVD Reviews | Mar 4th, 2005
Starring Jamie Foxx, Lynn Whitfield, CCH Pounder, Lee Thompson Young, Brenden Jefferson
Written By: J.T. Allen
Directed By: Vondie Curtis Hall
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Buy on Amazon.com
The story of Stan “Tookie” Williams, portrayed by Jamie Foxx, chronicles how Tookie co-founded the infamous Crips, an LA street gang, and now spends his time on death row with a different look on life and a chance to save his.
Stan “Tookie” Williams had a rough life. Coming from Louisiana, Tookie had a tough time adjusting to the LA lifestyle. Gangs were a part of his life and he helped start one, which was the Crips. He thought, if it wasn’t his gang, there would be another one cropping up and doing the things his gang did. Gangster life was big in the 80s and 90s, with many innocent deaths and unjustified street crime. Stan “Tookie” Williams was sentenced to death in the 80s for the death of 4 people. While incarcerated, Tookie was mostly respected by the fellow inmates, while some opposed him because of their dealings with rival gangs. Spending six years in solitary confinement changed Tookie. He started to educate himself and decided to start writing, with the help of Barbara Becnel, a journalist who took an interest in the street gang. There Barbara inquired about how the Crips were formed and the reasons behind them. Stan Williams opened up to her and led to a trust that not many people had with Tookie. He often was shy but then attacked Barbara’s inquisitions about why he did what he did and even attacked her upbringing. Barbara did not stand for it and did not show fear. Stan then developed a much stronger relationship with Barbara after those type of arguments.
With weekly meetings and phone conversations, Stan started sending writings to Barbara to transcribe in order to write a children’s book. One would think writing a children’s book by a murderer? Isn’t that a little too scary or extreme? On the contrary. Stan Williams wanted to spread his writings and give kids a chance to reconsider what path they take. He wanted them to know that, “hey look at me” and the mistakes he made and do not follow in his footsteps. Tookie and Barbara ended up putting out several books and became hugely popular books worldwide for their peace efforts. This even garnered multiple nominations for the Noble Peace Prize. Amazing that a man like Stan Williams could have such an effect on the people of the world and his local communities. Stan did not even fathom that he could reach a feat like that. Stan only wanted to tell the kids that gangs are not the right choice in life and to reconsider. Barbara and Stan’s relationship grew tighter over the years and you could almost take away the feeling that Barbara had feelings for Stan. Barbara had her own personal problems. A single mother of a young man who was headed in the direction that Tookie did not want kids in the LA area to go in. Barbara ended up opening up as much as Stan did over the years. To this day, Stan Williams sits on death row while his lawyers try and fight for an appeal. With even worldwide recognition, the appeals court has not heard Stan’s case. Redemption is a perfect title for the movie, because Stan believes his life can be redeemed and does not want to continue life in prison, or to be dead. He wants to continue to spread his message and to be free.
Jamie Foxx is excellent as Tookie Williams, and has definitely grown as an actor. He portrays Stan masterfully and you hang on his every word. Lynn Whitfield is also quite strong as Barbara and you believe the two actors are really the characters and have great chemistry. I also was impressed with the cinematography, using different techniques like gradients on the lenses, and the use of dreams and memories of Stan’s throughout the movie. It helped bridge modern day and the past.
Extras on the disk were minimal but potent. Two separate messages from the real Stan “Tookie” Williams from San Quentin Prison exclusively for the DVD and a full length audio commentary by Director Vondie Curtis Hall, film editor Terilyn Shropshire and Co Producer Barbara Becnel(the character featured in the movie.)
Redemption is now available in stores and if you interested in reading more about Tookie, go to http://www.tookie.com
Favorite Scenes: First meeting with Barbara, The videotape of Tookie to the Crips and Bloods
Running Time: 0 minutes