‘Welcome to the Punch’ (2013), we got no fun OR games…

6 Mar

Welcome to the Punch posterJames McAvoy is back, and he’s neither an X-Man nor is he voicing a gnome! Instead he plays the traditional moody cop in Welcome to the Punch, a bizarrely-named crime thriller set in a futuristic London. However, the city has fallen into a dystopian nightmare as gun violence has overtaken that of the USA in terms of sheer body count. As organised crime almost claims McAvoy’s character, he must team up with his trusty sidekick (Andrea Riseborough) to exact his revenge, while at the same time clean up the city.

Directed by Eran Creevy, this movie demonstrates the grimy, callous nature of undercover police work, and really avoids any kind of self-righteous glorification. Virtually every character, be they seemingly good guys or the antagonists, has a hidden agenda as trusts are betrayed and twists are revealed. However, this is hardly an original idea, as legions of both movies and television shows have tackled the concept of the dark side of policing already. As such, it is hard to take seriously as a movie; it feels just like an especially glossy, feature-length special episode of Law and Order.

A film which is unquestionably concerned with the problem of gun crime, Welcome to the Punch makes a ham-fisted attempt at taking a moral stance on the issue which is almost entirely undermined by the second half of the movie. A subplot surrounding a mayoral election sees the promise of a tougher stance on gun violence, and the police chief (played by the wonderful David Morrissey (AKA The Walking Dead’s ‘Governor’) advocates a similar message. Yet the countless shootouts, hostage-takings and general murders from both sides only demonstrate how violence IS the sole answer, at least for these characters.

That said, the film looks excellent and has an impressively murky and pessimistic tone. The colour coding basically consists of dark blues, dark greys, dark browns and any other negative flourishes. Much like Creevy’s last effort, Shifty, this film is coated in an undeniably well-produced sheen that gives the movie a very professional edge overall. It’s a shame the script is so unoriginal and cliché-ridden – I mean, how many times has the wayward cop out for revenge been depicted on our movie and TV screens?

The answer: far too many, and often times much better than this. Welcome to the Punch is average at best, and will probably appeal to the casual CSI fan but anyone looking for even a degree of substance, character depth or originality in general will be disappointed.

Simon says: bland bland bland! Hypocritical and vaguely misogynistic too. Looks nice though.

[Written for The Student Standard]

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