Welcome to the Punch Blu-ray Review
Movie heists rarely go off without a hitch, whether during or after the fact. WELCOME TO THE PUNCH’s sees criminal Jacob Sternwood and his gang stealing the loot and making their getaway on motorcycles, which may look “cooler” onscreen than, say, punch buggies, but make so much noise and call so much attention to themselves that it’s clear the gang didn’t really think through the whole sneaky getaway thing. Somehow, detective Max Lewinsky catches up and winds up with a bullet in his leg. This, of course, won’t be the last time these two see each other.
Sternwood (Mark Strong, who played Lord Henry Blackwood in 2009’s SHERLOCK HOLMES) goes into hiding in Iceland, where he hopes to live the rest of his life in isolation and away from anyone with the power to lock him up. His getaway doesn’t last long, though, as he is forced to return to London and rescue his son (Elyes Gabel, who appeared in seasons one and two of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES), who isn’t quite as skilled as his old man at robberies. This gives Lewinsky (James McAvoy, who played/will play Professor X in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS and next year’s X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST) the shot at revenge he’s been waiting for.
It also allows for plenty of shootouts, car chases and the like. WELCOME TO THE PUNCH so badly wants to be badass that it fails to realize that all of the noise and characters have been done countless times before. The central conflict itself—that between Sternwood and Lewinsky—refuses to veer from the standard cat-and-mouse game that is a staple of the genre. British-born writer/director Eran Creevy (who served as a production assistant on Matthew Vaugn’s LAYER CAKE and made his debut with the 2008 thriller SHIFTY) is clearly a fan of Guy Ritchie (whose LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS helped popularize the modern British crime movie), but can’t write, create personalities or direct action like him.
Another inspiration seems to be Michael Mann’s cop vs. robber epic HEAT. Ritchie may be too over-the-top for his own good and HEAT may be a touch bloated, but these sources (and even some of their finer knockoffs) have much more merit and so fans of the genre will be bored by this cheap wannabe and its thin ideas.
The leads, Strong and McAvoy, are far better actors than this material allows them to be: McAvoy has earned praise playing everything from a prisoner-turned-soldier to a telepathic superhero, while Strong has proven himself to be a capable movie villain, having also played (in addition to Lord Blackwood) Frank D’Amico in KICK-ASS, which allowed him to viciously manhandle Chloë Grace Moretz.
WELCOME TO THE PUNCH BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Director Eran Creevy has a good eye, and that is evident on this Blu-ray, which captures WELCOME TO THE PUNCH’s sleek exterior nighttime scenes and offers accurate colors and tones throughout.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English 20 PCM Lossless. Subtitles in English and Spanish. Every bullet and tire screech comes through surround sound speakers without flaw, maintaining the intended feel of WELCOME TO THE PUNCH.
Making Of (18:17): This featurette, with interviews, on-set footage and clips, looks at the story and characters of WELCOME TO THE PUNCH.
Interviews: Andrea Riseborough (Sarah Hawks), Daniel Mays (Nathan Bartnick), David Morrissey (Thomas Geiger), James McAvoy (Max Lewinsky), Johnny Harris (Dean Warns), Peter Mullan (Roy Edwards), and Mark Strong (Jacob Sternwood) all sit down for separate interviews.