Welcome To The Punch Review

They say time heals all wounds, but try telling that to embittered London copper Max Lewinsky.

Three years ago, Lewinsky was fresh off London’s detective factory line and in hot pursuit of a biker gang that just had pulled off a daring raid on some plush looking building, carrying four large holdalls off into the night with them.

I couldn’t say what the content of these holdalls was, because we’re never told or shown this at any point, but I suppose we’re meant to assume there’s cash, diamonds or some other sort of precious thing held within.

Seeing as I get to use my imagination on this one, I’ve decided Lewinsky’s off in hot pursuit of a bunch of Justin Bieber calendar thieving crims, who are now making a typical speedy get away through the streets of what looks like Canary Wharf on some nippy Vespa type bikes.

I’m more certain about the Canary Wharf setting than I am the swag, as Welcome To The Punch director Eran Creevy was talking about this just before his film began, as well as some other notable bits and pieces about the shoot that was no doubt more useful to some of the proper journalists in the audience tonight.

Me? I believe in being professionally unprofessional, as anyone who’s had the privilege of working with me could testify to.

Still, cops chasing robbers on bikes and stuff.

The long and the short of this opening sequence is after a fair share of huffing and puffing, detective Lewinsky wallops the chief bad guy clean off his Vespa with a metal bar.

Now I know what you’re thinking, this impact would surely be enough to break several ribs of any regular human being?

Well that’s where you’re wrong, because this tough nut immediately gets to his feet and tries to do one even without the aid of his mean machine.

Being the bally hero that he is, Lewinsky chases him down until his target pulls a gun on him.

As our detective is such a good fellow, and I’m not talking about the Scorsese variety here, he has nothing to pull himself, so the bad guy puts a cap in Lewinsky’s right calf and scampers.

Fast forward to the present day and we get to see today’s mad Max waking up in bed before draining a healthy amount of fluid from his jiggered right leg, in what’s safe to assume is now a part of Lewinsky’s glorious daily routine.

Back in the cop squad Lewinsky works for, a political storm is brewing about police being given arms to protect themselves from the rise of violent crimes in our less than fair capital city.

Not that Lewinsky cares much for such politicking and the inevitable back door shenanigans that accompany this; ever since that fateful day three short years ago, Max lost more than just a sizable chunk of his right calf.

He’s lost his policing mojo too.

But when the man who made Lewinsky this way returns to London in the name of family, Max rediscovers his fight as he spies a chance to finally lay the ghosts of his past to rest.

Welcome To The Punch is a stylish new thriller showcasing not only the best British cast you’ll see this year, but also the city I love and it’s splendidly neon lit skylines.

Director Creevy spoke of his love for London when choosing a location for his film, which comes shining through with some slick looking tracking shots of the city at night.

And the cast is great, with James McAvoy as Max Lewinsky, the criminally underrated Mark Strong as, well, the criminal mastermind Jacob Sternwood, Andrea Riseborough as Lewinsky’s partner in crime fighting and more British talent besides.

The problem is the script doesn’t live up to either the high production values on show or the ensemble cast assembled.

Characters are poorly developed, if at all, you’ll spot the major plot twist coming long before it arrives and while the action scenes for Welcome To The Punch are technically great, even if they do stretch credibility, you don’t engage with them.

Action scenes only work if you care enough about the people involved to engage with the peril they’re in, and Creevy’s script never made me feel that.

Welcome To The Punch looks good and makes loud noises at all the right moments, so if that’s your bag then you’ll love this.

But if you’re looking for something with a little more substance, you’d be better off picking a fight with some other film.

Jonathan Campbell

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March 2013
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