13 December 2004 | kerm
Controversy unfounded - Foxx displays amazing range
While packing up my apartment to move, Redemption just happened to come on the TV. I had heard about the controversy surrounding the movie, how it was supposed to "glamorize" gang behavior and justify it. Needless to say (or else I wouldn't be writing this), I got hooked on the film, and didn't get much packing done.
Tookie Williams co-founded the Crips in LA, but after his arrest and death sentence for the murders of several people, Williams embarked on a different path. While on death row, he has written a children's series of books aimed at preventing gang violence. For his efforts, he has been nominated multiple times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and is credited with a truce between the Crips and the Bloods in Newark, NJ.
The film, which chronicles Williams' life, shows how he grew up and got involved with gangs. However, the main thrust of the film is clearly that violence is not right, and that Williams, knowing what he knows now, is seeking to undo as much of his own actions as he can.
Williams does not discount the glamorous lifestyle that gangs allowed him, but recognizes now the pain and destruction that they cause. Williams himself understands the seductive nature of the gang, and is striving to help young people understand the consequences of their actions, before they do them.
Jamie Foxx, up to this point an underrated actor, displays amazing range in his portrayal of Williams. We are meant to see Williams, not as a great man, but rather as a flawed human being, one who has made mistakes and now is fighting to atone for them. If we cannot learn from our mistakes, we are no better than those we criticize. Foxx's performance, for which he has received many accolades, is incredible to watch.
If you are still reading this, you have enough of an open mind to appreciate this film. Please don't let the negative criticism dissuade you from watching this film. The film does not shirk from attempting to show the seductive side of gangs, but it also leaves no question about which side Williams is on. Williams' cause to eliminate gang warfare is a righteous one, and if he succeeds, we all win.