Welcome to the Punch – 2013

Coppers and crooks in Blighty is the Five-Word-Description.

Check out the trailer:

Padding that out a bit, Welcome to the Punch is a 2013 British film involving a couple of decent but not too bright detectives, a career criminal with a decent heart, and of course police bosses who stand on unsteady moral grounds. Most of the action takes place in London, with a brief sojourn out to the wilds of Iceland for a shootout in the woods.

Not that it is a London that we know and recognize. This London is all steel and glass skyscrapers. There’s not even a hint of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, or Piccadilly Square. Nary a classic London taxi in sight. What’s more we don’t even get to see even one instance of a version of the London Bobby kind of uniformed policeman that we grew up with in the filmi sense of the words, on this side of the pond. In case you were wondering – The Punch refers to an area that is located in London’s new and glittery Canary Wharf neighborhood.

The film has Ridley Scott listed as Executive Producer. The Director credit goes to Eran Creevey, and this is his second effort as director.

As for the cast – there’s James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class – 2011 and Wanted – 2008),

Mark Strong (most recently seen on American TV in Low Winter Sun – 2013 and Zero Dark Thirty – 2012),

and Andrea Riseborough who starred opposite Tom Cruise in Oblivion (2013).

Also on hand was Peter Mullan who was in the excellent TV series Top of the Lake. So this is a cast that looked good on paper.

Truth be known, on-screen, they all, with the exception of McAvoy, played rather decently too. Unfortunately the film has a great cast with a lot of sizzling action and style. What it lacked was a smart dialogue, some lighter moments, and a decent plot. Said in a different way – all that glitters is not gold.

Okay. Let me give you something of brief starter of a description. Mark Strong plays a career criminal called Jacob Sternwood who engages in big time heists. Pursuing him is Detective Max Lewinsky (McAvoy) and his partner Detective Sarah Hawkes (Riseborough). There’s a robbery, that has elements of Michael Mann’s Heat to it, a chase, a shootout, and Sternwood escapes.

Sternwood has a grown son who is involved in much smaller crimes. The son gets shot and ends up in a London hospital on Death’s Door. Lewinsky smartly says lets stake out the hospital because Sternwood will come for his son. Which is right. Only it goes wrong. They used the same idea in this hospital sequence as did Steve McQueen as Frank Bullitt.

As long as we are mentioning connections – Lewinsky was placed in charge of capturing Sternwood because if he failed, they’d blame his inexperience and inefficient methods. Wasn’t that the idea of how Cruise as Lt. Caffey was appointed as the defense attorney role in A Few Good Men?

Now I don’t mind some light lifts in films here and there, so to be fair, so far so good.

Mum doesn't know what the guy behind her is up to

Mum doesn’t know what the guy behind her is up to

Well, the story will run off the rails a bit further in. Like Act Two. There’s a gun running operation, shady politicians, shady journalists, and even more corruption in high places which you will see coming even before they tell you. And they do tell you.

But moving along, the film has great action set pieces with plenty of automatic weapons, high-speed chases, and besides that – a great deal of lousy marksmanship. And doesn’t it look good, watching the colossal waste of ammo because the cinematography is superb?

There’s no sex or nudity, lots of adult language, and as I said some stylish action. But, since they do have to speak – coppers and crooks always do – we get some stale and un-stylish dialogue.

Detective Hawkes travels without a notepad, hence her notes are handwritten

Detective Hawkes travels without a notepad, hence her notes are handwritten

However, it’s not all bad – the film runs 99 minutes, and you might find it entertaining if you happen to doze off between the action sequences. But if you imbibed any caffeine and were wide awake – you’ll begin to notice the chinks in the policemen’s armor as well as holes in the plot. There will be moments here and there, where even though the British speak English, as do we here in the former colonies, you won’t get all of what is said.

I’m not going to throw this one completely under the proverbial double-decker bus, as it will fit nicely into your entertainment budget if you’re already enrolled in the DVD section of Netflix. Two point seven five out of five is the rating.

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