The biggest crime of “Welcome to the Punch” is the way it indulges its own pouting, self-absorbed adolescent heart. Its redemption lies in its fierce dedication to style over content, and the ace performance of Mark Strong (“Zero Dark Thirty”) as a rabid London crook come out of hiding to inflict more damage on society. The balance is tricky, but in the end, there are more pros than cons … probably.
Directed by Eran Creevy, who made waves with an impressive debut feature called “Shifty” in 2008, this second outing has ample budget padding and slick visuals but runs a little low on ideas.
You’ll see artillery heavy enough to start a war: machine guns, assault rifles, automatic pistols and sharp things galore. The backdrop is an eerily empty London, mainly Docklands, shot only during the wee hours and consequently enrobed in permanent darkness. The story involves a contest of wills between cops and robbers, but the humor factor is zilch, and the film suffers from teenage tunnel vision that delights in blood and mayhem and not a whole lot else.
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Still, you’ll get to see the sweet-visaged James McAvoy play hard-nosed cop Max, out for revenge and getting pretty abusive in black leather. That counts for something. (K.S.)
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