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A fateful event leads to a job in the film business for top mixed-martial arts instructor Mike Terry. Though his refuses to participate in prize bouts, circumstances conspire to force him to consider entering such a competition.
There's a moment in Redbelt that takes place right at its midpoint that defines this movie. Tim Allen, playing the movie star actor (and true antagonist of the film) is talking to our hero, jiu-jitsu master and instructor Mike Terry.
Mike is explaining to the movie star that jiu-jitsu is about using your opponents strengths against them in order to defeat them. The movie star places Whiskey glass down on a railing and Mike immediately fixes the positioning of the glass before it falls. The movie star looks at Mike straight in the eye and realizes what his strength is:
Mike is a good guy who always needs to do the right thing. And its then when the movie star realizes what he can do to take advantage of Mike.
That is what the theme of this film is. Mike Terry is a great guy always needing to do what's right. And it's that strength that a group of people use to take advantage of him. This is a movie that's thick of irony as our hero fails because people use the same principals he teaches against him.
I guess as the cliche goes: Your greatest strength is always your greatest weakness.
Mike Terry is a great teacher too because his lessons are about giving his students a better moral center to become better people. Unfortunately Writer/Director David Mamet's thesis statement in Redbelt is that this way may be a little too idealistic in our current world.
If you want to see this film because you think it's a film about mixed-martial arts fighting, you're not going to the right film. Yes, there are some interesting fight scenes (mainly the climatic battle), but this is a film about the human condition and where we are in our current world.
This is a film that is really well made and executed. A movie that's currently mixed in with the Hollywood summer films that are playing at the cinema today. It's a character study film competing with a wide assortment of plot driven and/or high concept movies. And it's a great change of pace.
The only critique I can give Redbelt it that it's perhaps too loose on the plot as there are things that really don't add up. That and it really portrays a dim portrait of our society today. It reminds me of many stage plays that become dated right after its closes because their are many other negative things to write and complain about.But you can't help but appreciate and love the magic of the filmmaker and writer David Mamet. He can engage an audience by writing about how paint dries. He's just a gifted storyteller.
This film is all about character and the conflicts that are happening to our hero internally. Mike Terry is a man you can't help but like a whole lot, so you're with him all the way in his struggles and hope at the end, he wins out.
But this isn't a black and white movie with a black and white ending. That's not David Mamet's way. You enter this film feeling a tad uncomfortable and you leave this film thinking the same way. Life might be unfair for the really good people in the world, and this film tackles the reason why. This reviewer just wishes it wasn't that way and perhaps doesn't want to think about it.
Redbelt didn't really entertain me but it did make me think about a whole lot of things. Perhaps I wanted a bit more entertainment but I'm awfully glad I saw this film and recommend it to others.
3 stars out of 4! center>