Welcome To The Punch

Viewed – 12 September 2013  Blu-ray

James McAvoy has so far impressed me with enjoyable turns in outrageous action flick Wanted and despite reservations, Xmen: First Class.  So a Brit crime thriller with him as a damaged but relentless cop and everyone’s favourite Brit bad guy, Mark Strong (Kick-Ass) as a master thief / bank robber … this can’t go wrong, can it?

McAvoy plays a tough detective on the mean streets of London whose relentless pursuit of a skilled, ruthless criminal is cut short when said criminal leaves him injured after a chase – but doesn’t kill him.  Switch to 3 years later and the criminal is called out of semi-retirement when his son is injured in mysterious circumstances, sparking the interest of metropolitan’s finest and soon it turns out both cop and criminal may have a mutual enemy.

Although extremely stylish and peppered with some impressive shoot-outs, this is let down by a very familiar setup – think Heat, Fast & Furious or even John Woo’s Hard-Boiled and you get the picture.  The two main characters are also pretty much stereotypes, lacking in depth beyond being grizzled and handy with a gun – and was that a homoerotic vibe I sensed?

There’s good support however from Walking Dead’s David Morrisey and also Andrea Riseborough, and director Eran Creevy shows no lack of skill by delivering cool action, beautifully framed shots and making London look like a cyberpunk anime fan’s wet dream.  Yet the clichéd ideas mar what is otherwise a fun, occasionally surprising thriller, greatly in need of imagination.  At least when Hot Fuzz attempted this, it was a satire.

Verdict:  3 /5

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