Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Action, Crime
  • 2013
  • 99 mins [R][S]

Welcome To The Punch

Film4 Welcome To The Punch

About

When his son is mysteriously killed by local mobsters, lapsed criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) is forced to return to London, putting him in the sights of Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy), the hot-headed copper who is determined to finally bring him to justice.

Critic's Review

Eran Creevy's 2009 debut feature, Shifty, was a microbudget marvel that dodged lad-crime cliche to tell a unique, moving tale of male friendship. By turns raw and poignant, it made one wonder what the writer-director would do if he had millions, as opposed to thousands, of pounds at his disposal. And, as it turns out, Welcome To The Punch is the answer: a fast-paced, action-packed crime thriller that mixes up a palette of Asian and Hollywood genre influences and splashes it onto a London-centric canvas.

As the film opens, young buck Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is flying solo through a deserted Canary Wharf in hot pursuit of top-drawer criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong). But when he finally catches up with his prey, he finds that tenacity doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when your foe has one thing you sorely lack - a gun. For all his puffed-up bravado, Lewinsky is left kneecapped and emasculated, until, years later, Sternwood is spotted skulking around London once more, offering him a chance to reclaim his manhood.

For all its passion and drive, Welcome To The Punch lacks an identity of its own. You can’t fault Creevy’s faithful recreation of Michael Mann’s electric-blue skylines or, in one or two stand-out scenes, John Woo's acrobatic gunplay, but when Lewinsky and Sternwood hit upon a conspiracy that’s bigger than their own petty feud and form an unlikely alliance, thereby adding Walter Hill’s 48 Hrs to the already bulging list of citations, it might just be one nod too far.

Likewise, there’s something baldly pre-Wire about the script’s outmoded, masculine themes of ego, integrity and betrayal, and an ongoing thread that questions whether outgunned bobbies need to be armed is resolutely swept aside when even Skins alum Daniel Kaluuya - whose character seems to be interning at the Met - is seen packing heat.

However, what elevates Welcome To The Punch above the ranks of straight-to-DVD Danny Dyer vehicles is its superb cast. McAvoy and Strong make a compelling ying-yang double act - one barely-contained, the other cool-and-collected - while the rest of the ensemble is essentially a British cinema who’s-who, featuring Peter Mullan, Andrea Riseborough, David Morrissey, Jason Flemyng and even Sightseers’ Steve Oram in a two-line cameo. They may not be filling out the most nuanced characters (Riseborough’s mouthy cockney copper becomes a victim far too quickly), but they make sure that Welcome To The Punch never gets boring.

In a nutshell: This flawed, yet watchable action homage doesn't quite live up to its gun-toting influences, but a marvellous roster of Grade-A Brits tips the scales in Welcome To The Punch's favour.

By Michael Leader

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Andrea Riseborough, James McAvoy, Peter Mullan, David Morrissey, Mark Strong
  • Director: Eran Creevy
  • Writer: Eran Creevy
  • Producer: Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones
  • Photographer: Ed Wild
  • Composer: Harry Escott

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 The Sitter

    The Sitter

    Jonah Hill stars as a slacker who's forced to fill in as a babysitter for a night, but the kids he's looking after prove more than he can handle when he takes them on a crime-filled trip through NYC

  • Film4 Amy

    Amy

    Senna director Asif Kapadia tells the story of Amy Winehouse in her own words with the use of unseen archive footage and previously unheard tracks

  • Film4 Evil Dead

    Saturday Night Shocks on Film4

    Horror, mystery and suspense stake its claim on the weekend. A new season of Saturday Night Shocks comes to Film4.

  • Film4 Bridesmaids

    Comedy Season 2015 on Film4

    Eight nights of contemporary comedy hits, including first plays of Cuban Fury, American Reunion, The Sitter, and the network premiere of 21 & Over, on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Youth: first reviews at Cannes

    Early signs indicate that Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz and Paul Dano, which premiered in Competition at Cannes this morning is polarizing critics: some

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Cannes 2015: Carol, and the rest

    Film4 Channel Editor David Cox reports from Cannes on Todd Haynes' critically-lauded drama Carol, as well as other festival gems... [caption id="attachment_4528" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Caro

Watch On TV

9:00PM
Mon 25 May

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Tweets @Film4

  • #Film4SummerScreen's closing night premiere is Sundance hit Me & Earl & The Dying Girl! Tix: https://t.co/KjmG5vPw4Y http://t.co/G8CePhTbJt

  • Up next at 12.30pm, Richard Attenborough is a taxi driver charged with murder in courtroom drama Eight O'Clock Walk. http://t.co/MrwQkttEtd

  • RT @Phil_on_Film: @Film4 I love that tagline: "...silent as gunsmoke...hot as the revenge that drove him!"

  • Morning, folks! We're starting the day at 11am with Randolph Scott in Budd Boetticher's 50s western Ride Lonesome. https://t.co/G8fHA4KknM

  • RT @Screendaily: Andrew Haigh's next film to be 'Lean on Pete': EXCLUSIVE: Film4 backs development of Haigh’s 45 Years follow-u... http://t…

Share