“When you take him down this time, take him down hard”
Perhaps a more apt name for this rather outdated and parody-esque film would have been Welcome to the Cliche with its hilarious and classic one liners that you could have picked from any old episode of The Bill and uninspiring performances all round despite the surprising quality of the British cast this film is definitely one to miss especially when thinking about it’s competition this month. Even out of this week’s big name releases it is the weaker and it’s only competitor was the equally as lacklustre (but at least it had its moments) The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
From the trailer you could be mistaken for this new Brit thriller/drama being Trance which also stars McAvoy and is the latest release by hit maker Danny Boyle and this is probably intentional but then when you realise by the end of the trailer this is in fact another film they hit you in the face with Ridley Scott’s name in big bold letters naming him executive producer. Maybe they knew they were flogging a dead horse here and had to put something in the isn’t ice an audience of sorts. The trailer either way is edgy and action packed while not giving much of the flaw filled story away, it is a trailer full of that booming reverberating music which makes any audience think “YEAH COME ON! EXPLOSIONS F*** YEAH”.
Anyway, Welcome to the Punch stars James McAvoy at the head of its cast and he is an actor I would usually rely upon to put in a solid performance, I can only describe it as a great shame he decided to get into his character by watching Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace on repeat. His accent and mannerisms reminded me so much of the titlar character of the cult comedy series penned by Matthew Holness that the whole film ended up being a monologue and a Sanchez away from becoming Marenghi The Movie. My personal favourite cliche of the film was McAvoy describing his knee injury as “I got shot in the kneecap, not the head” which was met with the even more cliched quip “and don’t I know it”.
Other famous faces featured in the film were David Morrissey, Jason Flemyng, the black guy from Psychoville and a few other BBC dramas and long-term personal favourite Daniel Mays who always sticks his all into a role but even he seemed lacklustre and burdened by the boring script and predictable story that seemed intent on making sure there was a crime drama cliche around every fucking corner. Jason Flemyng’s role was just bizarre to say the least as he is a relatively large actor having even featured in Hollywood hit X Men: First Class alongside McAvoy but here his part was cut down to a disappointing 40-odd seconds of pointlessness that any old actor/extra could have filled. Both Mays and Flemyng obviously owed Creevy a favour.
Above all of this the film lost out on major points on the actual plot. It is fair to say I think that nothing made sense (and not in an Inception or Cloud Atlas was either). Welcome to the Punch was burdened from the very start with numerous plot holes and flaws and just things that definitely wouldn’t happen and if you are wanting to make a gritty urban cop drama things need to be real. Why did they just assume that McAvoy killed his partner without doing any sort of DNA tests? Why does McAvoy sometimes have the ability to run when he struggles to walk the majority of the time? And why were there numerous characters holding no significance to the plot popping in and being made out to be big players in the film’s outcome and then never seen again?
One of my biggest bug bears about this film was that this film was set in London. Well, I have never seen London so empty. The use of extras was awful as McAvoy was able to walk around empty streets at any time of the day. It just felt weird and not right at all. Ad one last thing before I actually self combust, why did Max (McAvoy’s character) have a box with “Max’s Stuff” written on it that had various close up shots of it and people almost opening but then closing as he came in the room? What was the point in that? We never found out, it was pointless. What did he have? Some dark past like very other cop that doesn’t play by the rules but damn well gets results? Oh man, all this and I forgot about THAT camera shot in nanna’s house where the camera suddenly, is granted a life of its own and goes apeshit on the movie as even it is bored with its stupid cliches and general clumsiness. If you see the film or have seen it you’ll know the shot I mean. Man alive.
This is a film better suited to being an ITV drama… In the late 80’s where this would have probably seemed “cool” but right here, right now, it was one of the least inspirational and thrilling experiences of film I have ever witnessed. I began to treat it more like a parody of the genre than an actual film.