Stylish thriller lacks a little bit of punch
All you need to know about this week's top new movie, Welcome to the Punch.
WHO STARS IN IT?
James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, David Morrissey, Peter Mullan, Johnny Harris and Daniel Mays.
WHO DIRECTS IT?
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
For more than a decade, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels has spawned an array of home-grown crime thrillers awash with dodgy geezers, graphic violence and Cockney rhyming slang.
If the recent big screen version of The Sweeney and now Eran Creevy's heavily stylised Welcome to the Punch are any indication, the wheeling and dealing is moving into Docklands. The glimmering skyscrapers, strip-lit office blocks and swish riverside apartments of Canary Wharf provide a stunning setting for this high-stakes game of cat and mouse involving a tenacious police officer and an elusive criminal.
WHAT IS THE PLOT?
Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is an inexperienced yet ambitious detective, who attempts to single-handedly take down notorious criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong).
Disobeying orders, Max chases after Jacob without any back-up and is shot in the leg. Three years later, the gung-ho battle-scarred detective is gifted a chance at redemption.
Jacob's son, Ruan Sternwood (Elyes Gabel), is arrested at an airport in connection with a bungled heist, and shortly after calls his father for help. Jacob secretly enters the country and meets up with associate Roy Edwards (Peter Mullan) to check on his son's condition.
"The police are going to make an example of him... because of you," confides Roy.
At the hospital, Max and his long-suffering partner, Sarah Hawks (Andrea Riseborough), wait patiently for Jacob to make his move.
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).
IS IT ANY GOOD?
Welcome to the Punch is an engrossing if somewhat underpowered thriller, hung on a serpentine plot that cocks a snook at the political establishment.
McAvoy and Strong are both solid in highly physical roles, allowing the tears to flow in quieter moments tinged with tragedy and heartache.
Riseborough is woefully short-changed but makes the most of her limited screen time.
WHAT: Welcome to the Punch.
RUNNING TIME: 99 mins.
SHOWING AT: Cinema De Lux and Odeon in Derby and Cineworld in Burton.