Welcome To The Punch (Movie) Review
Genre: Action, Thriller
Not so much?
What it lacked as a coherent thriller it made up for in its action. From the visually stylish opening scenes… to the various and efficiently exciting gun battles throughout, this is actually entertaining, high octane fun if you are able to look beyond the run-of-the-mill and clichéd plot.
James McAvoy and Mark Strong go head to head in this British action thriller from Director Eran Creevy, which features a host of home grown talent including David Morrisey, Jason Flemyng, Andrea Riseborough, Peter Mullan and the ever excellent Johnny Harris.
Three years after Detective Max Lewinsky (McAvoy) is injured in pursuit of his arch enemy Jake Sternwood (Strong), he gets a second chance to get his man when Sternwood comes out of hiding following an attack on his son.
With both Lewinsky and Sternwood investigating the attack from opposite sides of the law, the two come together as the plot thickens and unravels in this interesting blend of conspiracy thriller and loud, fast paced action.
Unfortunately, it is all very predictable. Working out who could be trusted and who couldn’t, who was involved and who wasn’t, was all so easy it was infuriating that it took McAvoy’s detective so long to do the same. With various attempts at twists and turns throughout, the predictability wouldn’t have been quite so bad if it wasn’t for the terribly poor dialogue and awful screenplay.
However, what it lacked as a coherent thriller it made up for in its action. From the visually stylish opening scenes in which Strong and his gang pull off a heist and make their getaway on motorbikes with McAvoy in pursuit, to the various and efficiently exciting gun battles throughout, this is actually entertaining, high octane fun if you are able to look beyond the run-of-the-mill and clichéd plot.
Therein really is my problem with this film, I couldn’t do that and I felt it took itself far too seriously, attempting to be a dark, violent and mature thriller but in doing so it came across as uneven and lacking in any fluidity, whereas had it lightened the tone and built upon the very well executed action sequences, it could have been much more entertaining and fun. Essentially, the plot got in the way of the action and it felt like I was watching some strange hybrid of The Sweeney, Smoking Aces and State of Play.
It could have been much worse, though, had it not been for the quality of the cast. Despite clearly being uncomfortable with their poorly written lines, they managed to deliver them with conviction and gusto. Strong never seems to put in a bad performance and inhabits his characters with disturbing ease. McAvoy always looks his part and despite a stuttering London accent and a tendency to huff and puff and blow his cheeks out throughout the film, he was excellent as the confidence-lacking Detective obsessed with rectifying his past mistakes. Of the ensemble, Johnny Harris stood out as the menacing henchman, portraying a frightening figure who intimidates with just a look of the eye or a curl of the lip.
As for the Director, Creevy, he clearly has talent with the camera and an eye for visuals but on the basis of this, certainly needs to work on his story telling and he owes significant praise to his cast for their efforts in elevating this above poor.
That being said, I went to see this with three other people and they all liked it a lot more than I did. I would still recommend Welcome To The Punch to anyone wanting to see a fast paced action film, though, just not to anyone wanting to see a decent thriller or an intricate plot.