Welcome to the Punch (2013)

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A slick and sometimes stunning British thriller from director Eran Creevy. There’s certain moments that stand out and are set up fantastically well but character work and a quick ending sort of let it down.

The plot summary, without giving too much away begins with a robbery which a lone motivated policeman is on the prowl to stop. Three years later the man in charge of the crime is back and corruptions and gun crime make for a backdrop to bring the archenemies back together again.

The opening titles are soon transformed into the vertical stripes of a modern looking building interior and from here on out you face the colour blue for practically the entire film. It’s a cold colour that affects the mood of the film tonally, from lights to clothes the atmosphere of this film is moody yet crisp. It’s fitting that the first parts of the movie look more polished, a more clinical appearance like with the bank and the hospital, the birds eye view of London streets looking like they’ve been transplanted from a cool music video or something like that. By the end we face a more grimy version of the city by moving to a expansive storage container yard. It’s a journey through differing shades of blue and more importantly it fits with the journey Max (James McAvoy) goes on. He starts off strong and fresh, gets wounded but doesn’t lose any determination and by the end we face the policeman in a sticky situation.

James McAvoy is good but not great, a case of not even realising he’s trying to do a London accent until he’s speaking to David Morrissey’s character and then from that point it’s all you hear as you realise how not great it is. He carries the role well enough but it’s a leading man role that maybe he wasn’t right for. Mark Strong as Jake the man returning from Iceland is big and bad as usual but a character turn leaves you more on his side than you’d expect and there’s a look in his eyes that carries both sadness and aggression. The most terrifying person though is Johnny Harris who plays Dean, an army guy and a menacing presence constantly. He’s perfectly mean and worrying and poses the biggest sense of threat in my opinion. The climax of his story is fast and there could have been great opportunity to have more happen there instead of the quick event that took place. On the whole the characters are pretty run of the mill stock archetypes with revenge taking over Max and Jake, police as liars and an army man as efficiently nasty, the weak female played by Riseborough doesn’t do much either, a poor role for women in the force.

It’s a definite British thriller with fight sequences and tense stand offs here and there and thanks to the British cast it feels like that. There’s small appearances from Daniel Mays, Jason Flemyng and then there’s Morrissey and Andrea Riseborough too. The night club scene is brilliant and with it’s emptiness and flashing white lights it all feels ready for a gun fight. The terrific moment where Dean shows up at his gran’s and finds her surrounded by Max, Jake and Roy (Peter Mullan) is quite comic and Ladykiller-esque but then some strange dramatic zooms into faces and a Matrix like shooting spree makes it seem silly and loses the drama it’s meant to be going for, an odd directing choice there.

The opening music which features on the credits is a nice little score that I thought I’d mention as it feels nice and thrillery (not a word I know but how I can describe it!) It coincides nicely with the general feel this film is aiming for and on the most part it hits the target if not for a few little misses on the way.

A pretty neat yet standard thriller with some stand out scenes and typically British performances that help tell a story of police conspiracy and threat.

7/10

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