Welcome to the Punch

26 Jul

welcome to the punch



Director: Eran Creevy

Writer: Eran Creevy

Stars: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 99 minutes


Is it feasible to take a big, shiny and slick police thriller and drop it into London as opposed to New York, LA or Hong Kong? That’s the key question with this Eran Creevy effort. The film borrows heavily from Michael Mann urban crime thrillers such as Heat and to various Asian cop flicks such as Hard Boiled and Infernal Affairs. As such it has limited dialogue, lots of chases, conflicted police officers, smooth criminals and plenty of guns. That’s all good, and I am a fan of cop versus criminal cat and mouse dramas, but can it really work in London?

The opening features a well-crafted after-hours robbery in Canary Wharf, the bankers’ steel and glass island in east London. It is a great start. It could have been a scene in Heat. The thieves get away on motorbikes and just about evade the lone cop in pursuit. The cop and criminals intersect long enough for the protagonists to go head-to-head with arch criminal Jacob (Mark Strong) beating dedicated cop Max (James McAvoy) to the punch. Max is left with physical and psychological injuries whilst Jacob heads for early retirement.

Jacob is forced out of retirement by the plight of his grown-up son Ruan in London. He has got in over his head and with criminal elements happy to brandish guns and to settle disputes with a bullet to the head. Whilst not necessarily Jacob’s preferred approach, he heads back, picks up with his old sidekick Roy (Peter Mullan), and inadvertently re-triggers the cat and mouse games with now disgruntled cop Max. As Jacob and Max investigate the criminals associated with Ruan, their agendas start to merge as the film heads towards a climactic gun battle back in the east end.

Eran Creevy should be applauded for attempting to make this and he gets committed performances from a solid cast (with Mark Strong typically excellent and well supported by Mullan and by Johnny Harris as baddie Dean). Ultimately, however, it doesn’t work. The first 30 minutes grab attention, but are then undermined by the final 60 minutes as the plot unravels. London looks surprisingly cool and modern, but it simply can’t support the cop with demons, the industrial conspiracy, the car chases and the over-the-top gun play. Creevy tries hard to drop Heat into London, but it is an unconvincing effort.

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