Britain steps up to the world cinematic stage with this gorgeously shot, stunningly crafted crime tale that very firmly puts style over substance.
From the very first scene of London by night, you’re in for a jaw-dropping high definition visual overload, the like of which has simply not been seen on screen.
Everything sparkles in a cold, crisp brilliance, and when the camera soars through the city streets, watching a heist getaway and ensuing chase sequence you can feel every cinematic bone fibre of your body reacting to witnessing something a bit special.
James McAvoy is maverick but good cop Max, who has a score to settle with criminal big-wig Sternwood (Mark Strong) after he was shot during a high-stakes heist.
Fate sees Max given the chance to bring Sternwood down when the mobster’s son is being treated in a London hospital. Will Sternwood bite on the bait of trying to free his son from a soft target location and might there be a bigger, nastier conspiracy going on behind the scenes?
The story about Max’s obsession with Sternwood is pure British Heat but alas director Eran Creevy hasn’t quite got the intricate plot and strong dialogue of the Michael Mann masterpiece, so while Welcome To The Punch rocks visually and packs some great action, it doesn’t resonate at a level to make it a classic.
Creevy deserves credit for pulling off such an accomplished film on a medium budget through some very high production values and a decent bunch of actors, but this could have been something really special if the dialogue and character development were better.
The emotional pull/love interest is a weak point. Andrea Riseborough as Sarah, Max’s partner, isn’t given enough to do except ask dim questions that help fill in exposition about the gun-running/political plotline.
Welcome To The Punch certainly references from the best with films like Infernal Affairs, Heat and last year’s Sweeney remake all prominent.
This is a new breed of British crime thriller which moves the genre on from the Guy Ritchie/ Essex Boys years.
There are some really great scenes on offer, with my picks the opening heist, a great nightclub shootout and an absolutely nerve-shredding stand off that all goes very wrong. Welcome To The Punch is definitely worth a look!