The Rundown: 'Redemption'
Redemption is a twisty modern Western from writer, director, and star Stormy Daniels. A mythic tale of romance and betrayal in a star-crossed family of ranch owners, it has many echoes of TV's Yellowstone, but in truth, Daniels was crafting comparable narratives long before the Kevin Costner fave debuted. Redemption is a quasi-sequel to 2015's hit Wanted, an Adam & Eve/Wicked co-production set in the Old West. When Adam & Eve and Daniels set out to craft a new blockbuster, the company quickly suggested a movie in the mode of the prior hit. Daniels created a contemporary Western story centered around the descendants of Wanted's characters. Barrett Blade, Daniels's husband and an industry heavyweight in his own right, stepped into the creative roles of actor, music arranger, and director of photography.
Redemption's story centers on the Morgan family, who begin to lose hold on their much-loved ranch when the family patriarch dies unexpectedly. Headstrong daughter Samantha (Stormy Daniels) must contend with the threatening efforts of an unethical developer while also negotiating the disparate demands of her own family. She doesn't always agree with sister Brittany (Aiden Ashley), daughter Meghan (Laney Grey), or lover Braxton (Blade), but impending disaster creates surprising alliances, reveals old fissures, and ignites new fires.
**Spoiler alert** This scene recap divulges certain aspects of Redemption's plot
Daniels herself cites the Laney Grey and Will Pounder sex scene as her favorite in the movie. The second full love scene in Redemption, the sequence finds ranch hand Travis (Pounder) awaiting one-time lover Meghan (Grey) in one of the ranch's stables. He's been unfaithful to her before, but their chemistry is undeniable. Though she pushes him on the nature of his intentions, it isn't long before they're enjoying a passionate moment. "Laney and Will in the barn - he stayed in character and he looked fucking amazing. He was able to pick her up and and I just thought it was a really, really hot scene. And I liked the way she has two sex scenes in the movie. I really liked that we see a difference - how she is with one of her partners and with the other one. So that was pretty cool," Daniels told Adult Empire.
The movie opens with a lengthy sequence dealing with the aftermath of the death of Morgan family patriarch, James (Steve Matts). Daughter Brittany (Aiden Ashley), who's long since left the family ranch for city life in Seattle, is shattered by the news but finds a momentary salve in the tender attention of partner Allie Adams. Later, in scene three, family attorney Eric (amiably embodied by Ryan Mclane) distracts himself from Morgan family woes in a dalliance with Meghan's friend August Skye.
Scene four finds Meghan getting intimate under the stars with Jason, a passerby to the ranch who may not be quite the guileless nice guy he seems. The movie's final sex scene sees Samantha (Daniels) reigniting her passion with Braxton (Blade), a rogue with a heart of gold. (Daniels explicitly based these last two characters on Yellowstone's Beth and Rip, giving the sequence an extra hot and heavy boost for fans of the series.)
The family backstory Meghan recounts when she's telling Jason about the property's history is the storyline of 2015's Wanted.
Many of the movie's non-sex roles are played by familiar industry faces, including director Steve Matts (as James Morgan) and J. Crew (as the doctor).
The production team originally offered the greedy developer role to Dale Dabone and Brad Armstrong, both of whom had to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts.
Katie Morgan was originally slated to play Brittany before COVID her (and Evan Stone, who was to play a non-sex role) to decline.
(Source: Adult Empire podcast interview)
Why we love Redemption
The movie is as much an artistic redemption as it is a narrative one.
Redemption just kept on surprising me. Initially, I expected a basic variation on the famous Paramount Network TV show -- Porn Goes to Yellowstone, in essence -- but the movie moves well beyond its peak TV inspiration. In truth, since Daniels's Wanted predates Yellowstone by several years, perhaps it is the mainstream property that owes some of its mojo to a porn original. More than once, I was convinced that Redemption had reached its concluding cadence before it unloaded another twist, another startling character reveal, another shocking turn. There's also a plain-spoken, laconic quality to the dialogue that evokes the best in classic Old West cinema and literature. ("She reminds me of you." "That's what scares me.")
The movie's cast went through several iterations, as detailed in our companion interview, but the final configuration is as close to perfect as one can imagine. Interestingly, the way the movie's squabbling, sometimes violent family finds common ground could be a metaphorical road map for contemporary America itself. Sometimes, there's a way forward even when the path before you is strewn with strife. Or you can simply enjoy the movie as classic hardcore entertainment from one of the industry's greatest stars. Either way, the redeeming value in Redemption can be found all over the ranch.