Review: Welcome To The Punch

Welcome To The Punch

Welcome To The Punch - Credit: Archant

It opens with a scene that is an archetype of light-polluting noir. After a night-time bank heist in the City of London, four motorcyclists make an Italian Job-style getaway through the gleaming empty streets.

A lone cop screeches to a halt at a crossroad, jumps out of his car and tries to listen for any trace of the gang in the silent morning. It is a fitting opening for a film that is always a little bit too silly for the flash and grandeur with which it is presented.

It is cast beyond its means, with James McAvoy starring as Max, the cop who is 'too close to the case' and Mark Strong as Jacob Sternwood, the master criminal he is obsessed with.

Disobeying orders, Max chases after Jacob without any back-up and is shot in the leg. Three years later, the battle-scarred detective is gifted a chance at redemption when Jacob's son Ruan (Elyes Gabel) is involved in a bungled heist and the elusive criminal is lured out of hiding to seek revenge in the capital.

Max seizes the chance to hunt down his arch-nemesis, creating friction with police chief Thomas Geiger (David Morrissey) and fellow detective Sarah Hawks (Andrea Riseborough). Hunter and hunted orbit one another, unaware they are being drawn into a deeper conspiracy involving a hired killer (Johnny Harris) and a spin doctor (Natasha Little).

Such effortless villainy comes easy to Strong but you can see the effort McAvoy and Riseborough are putting in and these are not the kind of roles where you can let the audience see you acting. In contrast, Harris brings so much genuine menace to his role as a murderous former soldier that he unbalances the film's ecosystem.

Big budget

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Director Eran Creevy made such a good job of micro-budget drug-dealer drama Shifty that he has been handed a big cast and a big budget, much of it spent on numerous aerial shots of the City. You warm to his ambition but this was all done a lot better in the film version of The Sweeney.


Director: Eran Creevy

Starring: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, David Morrissey, Daniel May and Peter Mullen

Length: 99 mins