UK Release Date: 15th March 2013
Runtime: 99 minutes
Director: Eran Creevy
Writer: Eran Creevy
Starring: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, David Morrissey, Andrea Riseborough
Synopsis: When an old target comes out of hiding to help his son, a cop sees this as his chance at success. However, soon a wider conspiracy gets in the way of his plan.
If there’s one thing that British cinema seems safe from, it’s the desire to be American. However, Eran Creevy’s London crime thriller Welcome to the Punch is trying unbelievably hard to appear sent from across the pond.
Keeping Welcome to the Punch firmly on this side of the Atlantic is its stunning cast; a who’s-who of the UK’s acting talent. James McAvoy sports a slightly dodgy Lahndun accent and grits his teeth a lot, but Mark Strong absolutely shimmers as the terrifying crime lord with whom McAvoy is obsessed. David Morrissey is equally strong as a senior officer, even if his past roles make the ultimate plot reveal more predictable than it should’ve been.
But the problem with the film is that any attempt to scratch below the surface shows that there’s absolutely nothing there. Welcome to the Punch is glossy, stylish and beautiful to look at – London really could be New York – but there’s no more to it than that. Creevy spent so long turning London into an homage to American gangster films that he didn’t have enough time left to write a decent script or construct a plot.
In fact, were it not for the entertaining shoot-out sequences and one very amusing stand-off over a cup of tea and a kindly granny, Welcome to the Punch would be a poor movie. The natural charm of the cast and the attractive layer of cinematic sheen help the movie get away with a lot of its shortcomings.
But that’s not to say that the film’s issues aren’t irritating. For at least an hour of the running time, the movie is relentlessly boring as it plods between shooty bits and noisy bits and expositiony bits without much of a structure. When the plot finally does unravel, it is with a shrug rather than a flourish as the big revelation isn’t really big or revelatory. It actually just facilitates another shoot-out.
Brit charm, thankfully, is enough to keep Welcome to the Punch a head above the water. Eran Creevy is an exciting film maker though and hopefully his next effort will find the happy medium between low budget and gloss.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.