Director: Eran Creevy
Cast: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, Johnny Harris, Peter Mullan, David Morrissey
Plot: Max Lewinsky is a cop who's obsessed with catching Jacob Sternwood, the robber who shot him in the leg three years ago. When Jacob's son is shot and hospitalised, Max sees this as an opportunity to arrest Jacob when he shows up to visit his boy. However, there are bigger forces at play involving the boy, that threatens the lives of both men.
Review: Welcome To The Punch is reminiscent of a Hong Kong crime thriller, evident by the similar elements such as wide city shots, gritty action sequences, heavy violence and shady backgrounds of the key players. It's actually refreshing in that sense, as action films these days tend to be too stylish, but writer-director Eran Creevy grounds his film well and makes sure his action sequences hit hard.
One of the things I like most is the cinematography, where a bright blue hue is visible for most of the film which takes place at night. That, coupled with the aforementioned wide shots of London from the air makes the film look absolutely beautiful. The action sequences, mostly gunfights and a few physical scrapes, are shot realistically with no overstyling (there's only one slow motion sequence that I noticed).
The entire cast put in strong performances, especially the two leads. James McAvoy is getting better with every role he takes. As Max, he fits the troubled cop with a bad leg to a tee, not being immediately likable but definitely someone the audience can relate to. Mark Strong puts in a lower key performance than usual as Jacob, making his character more than just a smart robber. He's actually a fair man who doesn't kill for the sake of killing, but won't hesitate for a second if he needs to. Andrea Riseborough is pretty good also as Max's partner Sarah while Johnny Harris looks suitably intimidating as key villain Dean Warns.
The plot concerning politics, guns and corruption needs a bit of polishing though. McAvoy and Strong's characters need some development too. It would be too easy to sum up their relationship as cop and robber, and while their roles in this film are clear, a bit more substance would have been nice. And there are a couple of things left open at the film's end which should have been tied up.
Nevertheless, Welcome To The Punch is a gritty crime thriller. Quite entertaining, not perfect, but very watchable. (3.5/5)