New Release Review - Welcome to the Punch

Directed by: Eran Creevy
Starring: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, David Morrissey, Andrea Riseborough, Peter Mullan

An obsessed cop is forced to work alongside his criminal nemesis to bring down a network of corruption.

Attempting to foil a robbery, detective Max Lewinsky (McAvoy) is shot in the knee by underworld boss Jacob Sternwood (Strong). Three years later, when his son is hospitalized as a result of his criminal ways, Sternwood returns to London, aiming to find those responsible. Lewinsky attempts to trap him and finally put him behind bars but the two find themselves double-crossed by a group of corrupt politicians and cops intent on pushing their agenda of arming the police force. Reluctantly, Sternwood and Lewinsky team up to expose the truth.
Few sub-genres have produced such a level of mediocrity as the British crime flick. Over the past fifteen or so years, countless low budget Guy Ritchie knock-offs have hit our screens. It seems every week there's a new straight-to-DVD release featuring Danny Dyer as a "cockney hard-man". 'Welcome to the Punch' appears from the outset to be simply a big budget version of the aforementioned, replete with an A-list cast. Thankfully it shares little with its partners in British crime. There are no over-the-top "geezer" characters and it's possibly the first London based crime movie not to feature copious use of the C-word. Save for the accents, it's virtually indistinguishable from its American counterparts.
While the plot is far from original, director Creevy keeps our interest with some brilliantly staged set-pieces. The look of the film seems to have been inspired by eighties thrillers like William Friedkin's 'To Live & Die in L.A' and Michael Mann's 'Thief'. Creevy and cinematographer Ed Wild use light sources in really interesting ways. There are stunning images like a forest illuminated by a nearby explosion, spotlights traversing an abandoned night-club, and a birds-eye view of a flash-light moving through a container yard. What the film lacks in substance, it certainly makes up for with an abundance of style. Add a cracking performance from Strong, who is quickly making a claim to be the new Ben Kingsley, and 'WTTP' is an entertaining, if instantly forgettable, old-school cops 'n robbers tale.
6/10


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