By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
It seems like it’s been awhile since we’ve had a good dose of James McAvoy, which might be why my girlfriend has been so damn irritable lately.
I can’t think of any other reason
Good news, though, as a double dose of crime thriller-y Johnny Mac action has recently hit theaters. Chances are you’re familiar with his Danny Boyle heist flick Trance, but he actually beat that one to theaters with Welcome to the Punch.
In this on he plays a cop obsessed with getting another crack at a master thief (Mark Strong) who escaped his clutches and shot him in the leg to boot three years earlier. He finally gets his shot when Strong’s son mysteriously jumps a plane with a gunshot wound to the stomach. Strong returns from Iceland to recover him, but instead of a straight-forward arrest this action begins to unravel a much larger conspiracy going far beyond either of them.
From the very first scene it’s clear that director Eran Creevy has an eye for a beautifully framed shot and a talent for pacing action scenes. I’ve heard his name mentioned in connection to a few higher profile projects, and I have no doubt he has a lucrative Hollywood action pic career ahead of him at the very least. I also love the choice to drop us right in the middle of an action scene at the beginning, without any context or idea of what’s happening. It’s a visceral and arresting way to begin a flick.
If not a particularly original one
Unfortunately the film can’t maintain this level of intensity, mostly because people start talking. There are still some good action setpieces scattered throughout, leading up to an exciting climax and finale. Creevy and/or his team also has a good knack for picking cool settings for the action, so when the guns are going off the flick is very engaging.
When they’re not, though… we’re stuck with a generic crime/corrupt cop plot that tries to duck and weave to create surprises, but utterly fails.
Hmmm, I wonder if the guy who plays The Governor is up to no good…
Also, Mark Strong isn’t a master criminal so much as he’s the luckiest goddam criminal alive. It’s hilarious how many bad decisions he makes, and never pays for. One scene in particular annoyed me to no end. Strong just up and walks in the hospital where his son is, uncontested. It occurs to him at the last second that maybe the police are in some way anticipating this (since they sent a strike team to Iceland off of a phone call trace from his son, for one…) So, he sends some poor schlub, who asks him for directions to another hospital room, and who apparently can’t read room numbers, into the room first. Said schlub is tackled by police, but McAvoy is clairvoyant or some-fuckin-thing, so he knows to ask “Who told you this room number?” then chases after Strong. Literally every character involved in the scene is an idiot until the precise instant they need not to be.
The opening scene has this awesome blue filter that gives the city an otherworldly nighttime glow. Unfortunately, Creevy never takes the goddam thing off for the rest of the film. Enough of this blue and orange filter MichaelBay bullshit already. If you only want two color tones in your whole movie, shoot the thing in black and white. At least that way you’ll have some depth and variety of two colors at least.
I wavered between a third and a fourth beer for this one. If you choose to add another, I can’t blame ya, but a quality, action-packed climax won me over. If you’re just looking for an enjoyable action/crime movie, you can do a lot, lot worse.
Take a Drink: every time McAvoy disregards an order or basically acts like a shitty cop
Take a Drink: whenever Mark Strong half-asses an escape attempt, and gets away anyway
Do a Shot: for every correctly predicted plot twist