Rating: 1 stars out of 5
With a title like that, there are no prizes for guessing what kind of movie this hopes to be. The film’s welcoming premise actively beckons audiences to come along for the anticipated ride, with appropriately punchy entertainment no less.
Unfortunately for director-writer Eran Creevy, the ride which this film promises is a misleading trail of dreariness and disappointment. This movie is so dull, even executive producer Ridley Scott ('Alien', 'Gladiator') can’t save it.
McAvoy's expression (above) sums up our reaction throughout the whole film
'Welcome To The Punch' follows the raving success of Creevy’s feature film debut 'Shifty' back in 2009, a considerably underground film (in relation to 'Punch') with minimal budget, whilst receiving numerous award nominations and approving nods of critics.
'Punch' on the other hand, despite boasting a co-starring celebrity duo of Mark Strong ('Sherlock Holmes', 'Kick-Ass') and James McAvoy ('-Men: First Class', 'Wanted'), is a cinematic dud where its predictable plots and shoddy character development bury it underground.
McAvoy and Strong square it off as bitter rivals
McAvoy plays damaged detective Max Lewinsky, a man on a vengeance who wishes to settle the score with long-time rival and notorious criminal Jacob Sternwood, played by Strong.
While most revenge-themed plots should usually make the audience feel a tinge of empathy for the protagonist, Lewinsky’s path of vengeance is however, a petty grudge fueled by weak motivation at most.
Besides being known for his brooding good looks (McAvoy’s character actually makes a cheeky reference to his impeccable charm), McAvoy is also notable for being an intense actor on screen. But even McAvoy’s raging screams of agony and frustration don’t justify his overly passionate lust for revenge in this film. The basis of his revenge is just too shallow.
As Detective Max Lewinsky, McAvoy is dead set on seeking his revenge
Strong’s villainous character is as equally one-dimensional. This isn’t a folly of Strong however, the problem lies in his scripted character which is so stiff that even a wall of drying paint would have more personality.
A good portion of the film is spent switching between both sides of the primary story, one from Lewinsky’s perspective and the other from Sternwood’s. Although this bodes a potentially colourful contrast which should supply the plot with enlightening surprises, the plot remains a terribly linear one with little creativity.
And to make matters worse, the linearity of the film’s plot makes its developments extremely predictable. When the film attempts to punch you with its share of plot twists as expected from most action-thrillers, the impact feels less like a wallop and more like a feather.
Even the villains seem uninspired in this film
Despite having these excessively obvious storylines, there are some stones which are left unturned. But these aren’t mysteries which make you ponder in suspense, instead these are insertions which make you wonder why they’re even in the plot at all.
For instance, the obsessive habit of Lewinsky’s partner Sarah Hawks (played by Andrea Riseborough) of filthily scribbling on her hand, or the cloudy motives of political publicist Karen Edwards (played by Dannielle Brent), or most troubling of all, why Creevy thought it was apt to gloss his film with a title so wholly insignificant to the film.
Perhaps we can fathom why. With a ‘punchy’ title, pun intended, this film hoped that it would help attract box-office buzz. While all it really did was knock itself out.