Saturday, 13 April 2013

No.182 : Welcome to the Punch



Welcome to the Punch at the IMDb

Another page from Alan Partridge’s book of ‘Bad Slags’ now as we pick through this British cops v robbers action and swearing fest.

The film opens with a daring bank raid. It’s daring because all the bad guys are wearing suits and escape as a motorcycle formation team. The only cop in town is James McAvoy who has a shiny car and no back up. He’s ordered not to pursue but we know he’s reckless, er a maverick, from the off as he disregards the stuffed shirts at HQ and goes after the bad guys. Clearly Health and Safety called this one right as after a minor kafuffle McAvoy is shot in the leg and the bad guys get away.

We fast forward a couple of years and, although still a cop, McAvoy is bitter and forced to syringe out fluid from his still painful leg wound. He’s still bitching at his superiors, one of whom is that annoying one out of all these type of films and the other the Governor out of ‘The Walking Dead’ who has political ambitions. We learn that the leader of the robbers was Jacob Sternwood who not only has a tough name, he’s tough as well.

The bad man has gone to ground but the cops fancy their chances of a collar when they pick up Sternwood’s son on an unrelated offence. What follows is a predictable game of cat and mouse as the gangster heads back to the smoke to rescue his kid while McAvoy tries to remember to limp and look tough despite a weak beard.

This film wasn’t as terrible as I anticipated but it was still pretty poor. Of course it’s easy to pick nits, so let’s do that then.

McAvoy may now have the leading man status to open a film but he didn’t convince as the haunted copper with a score to settle. He may have been shown a couple of gun drills but his running about and swearing while offering his piece was more laughable than threatening. Better was Mark Strong as the villain but he’s had plenty of practice -  see ‘The Guard’ ‘Kick-Ass’ etc. He certainly topped McAvoy in the acting stakes but even he floundered with some hokey dialogue and ridiculous plot twists.

Down the list you also get Peter Mullen doing what he does and a disinterested David Thewlis as the aspirational politician who’s plan to shoot up London to win votes and lucrative contracts was ill conceived at best. The lead lady was a bit plain and her habit of writing stuff on her hands had her fate signalled from the off - guess where the killer clue is found?

The story was overly complicated and too reliant of coincidence and lucky timing. At the end McAvoy has a long speech where he explains the plot along with flashbacks and I was still a bit puzzled. Some of it didn’t even make sense - Britain’s most wanted escapes from his Icelandic lair, kills plenty, and then jets straight into the heart of London without a second glance. He also manages to meet all his old contacts and wanders in and out of various crimes scenes with no questions asked.

The big showdown where the two arch enemies forge an uneasy alliance was so much horse shit, but at least it did let a few extras get shot up. The production was quite lavish for a British film but it had so many ‘London at Night’ establishing shots you’d think the whole thing was bankrolled by the tourist board - well maybe if every person in Britain wasn’t shown as a total murdering psycho you might.

Overall the film was like a lavish episode of ‘The Sweeney’ and it was certainly better than the recent remake film of that series. Part of the fun is spotting all the actors they found sitting about in the Garrick Club and shoved on screen for five minutes. The violence was moderate with nothing too graphic despite ten million bullets being shot off in the name of entertainment. Worth a look but only a passing one as you skip past it on Channel 5 in a couple of years time.

W Score 12/23  Best Bit - Storage wars Writ Large


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