Movie Review: Welcome To The Punch

Cinema still: Welcome To The Punch.

SINGAPORE - Movie Review

STARRING: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough

DIRECTOR: Eran Creevy

THE SKINNY: Infamous crook Jacob Sternwood (Strong) returns to London after his son is shot. Local cop Max Lewinsky (McAvoy), who was wounded by Sternwood earlier in his career, sees this as his chance to take his nemesis down. The two end up getting caught up in a vast conspiracy.

RATING: NC-16

Reviewer: Jason Johnson

First things first - what a terrible title! Welcome To The Punch?

It's an inelegant smattering of words that fail to capture the vibe of this elegant thriller.

This is one of those cop shows where everything is blue - I guess the cool colour palette makes everyone look cooler. In this case, it happened to work as McAvoy and Strong both look formidable indeed.

Earlier in his career, McAvoy seemed to play more sensitive, wide-eyed sorts - he was the faun Mr Tumnus in The Chronicles Of Narnia, for goodness' sake. These days we see him in harder-edged flicks, such as the mind-bending crime caper Trance and now this.

Later this year, he will appear in the yet more demented Filth.

He's a wee fellow, but he has the intensity to make up for his lack of physical presence. The beard also helps. I find him fascinating to watch in anything.

Same goes with Strong, only double.

One of the characters in the film says Strong's face looks like "a bag of smashed crabs", which is fairly accurate.

At the same time, he just oozes charisma. There's a scene - in which Strong meets up with his son who got shot - that is powerfully moving.

He's supposed to be the bad guy and yet suddenly you're on his side. It's like some of the classic Hong Kong crime flicks in that way.

Actually, it's like a Hong Kong crime flick in a lot of ways - low-budget, flashy, macho, action-packed, urban, emo and occasionally profound.

Solid genre stuff. 3.5 Stars.

Reviewer: Joanne Soh

I wanted to like this movie for two reasons - McAvoy and Strong.

McAvoy is, to me, an underrated actor who can do anything you throw at him. Drama, check. (The Last King Of Scotland, Atonement.) Romance, check. (Penelope, Becoming Jane.)

He has become an iconic comic book character - Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class and its upcoming sequel Days of Future Past.

And after seeing him in Wanted, I'm convinced he can be an action man.

Strong has become the go-to guy for all things bad, but somehow, the versatile actor never makes his villains one-dimensional. His role here is rather bland, yet he manages to add some depth.

So what went wrong with this movie? Plot, and a case of too much action.

There may be twists that elevate this crime flick, but the deviations are predictable.

Director Creevy cited the Hong Kong shoot- 'em-up flick Infernal Affairs as an inspiration. Sadly, Welcome To The Punch lacks its intrigue and intensity. Despite the strong support from its commendable cast, the action sequences drown out their performances.

My threshold for loud, brainless action is rather high, but there is only that much relentless shooting I can handle.

What a pity. 2.5 Stars.

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