Review: WELCOME TO THE PUNCH (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


WELCOME TO THE PUNCH is all about flashy style with exciting action scenes, but the plot is sketchy and the characters are mostly paper thin.

At the first glance, WELCOME TO THE PUNCH has a few flight of potentials -- it has a top-notch cast (James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, Peter Mullan and among others), slick production values and a Hong Kong-style British crime thriller where action is staged like John Woo. It sure sounds cool enough not to give this a miss. While it has its few entertaining moments, WELCOME TO THE PUNCH is all style but little substance.

The movie begins with Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy), a young but reckless detective on the trail of a gang of motorcycle-riding safecrackers, lead by a career criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong). During an elaborate chase through the deserted night of London, Max ends up getting shot in the knee. However, Jacob chooses not to kill him and disappears.

Three years later, Max is still upset over the unfortunate incident that caused his permanent knee injury. He is now partnered with Sarah (Andrea Riseborough), who loves to jot info all over her hands. Then one day, Jacob is forced to come out from his hideaway in Iceland and returns to London after his teenaged son Ruan (Elyes Gabel) is arrested following a botched heist. While Max is so eager to arrest Jacob, little does he knows that there is a bigger conspiracy than he originally expected.
From Ed Wild's icy-blue cinematography that captured the mesmerizingly gleaming look of the London city during the night, to Harry Escott's pulsating techno score, and Crispian Sallis' stunning production design, WELCOME TO THE PUNCH is a cinematic triumph for its technical standpoint. Director Eran Creevy, in the meantime, knows how to stage a stylish action sequence (shootout, to be exact) while most of the actors here are equally credible, if sometimes paper thin. Among them are Mark Strong, who is typically engaging as Jacob. Andrea Riseborough is just as good playing a tomboy-ish cop character, while Peter Mullan, who plays Jacob's sidekick Roy Edwards, brings a distinctively grizzled performance to his role.

The brief, but stunning slow-motion shootout scene between Max, Jacob, Roy and Dean (Johnny Harris) in a living room.
Eran Creevy's screenplay, which combines a mix of typical cop-and-criminal genre with a political-thriller twist, is enormously shortsighted and even confusing at the same time. For James McAvoy who plays the lead actor here, his boyish charm is hardly convincing enough to play a tough and brooding cop who has lived through hell.

WELCOME TO THE PUNCH is hardly great, let alone a good one by any means. Still, the movie is fairly worthwhile as a stylish crime thriller.

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