Film review: Welcome to the Punch (8 out of 10)

Mark Strong in Welcome to the Punch.
Mark Strong in Welcome to the Punch.

Mark Strong is one of those actors who has always deserved a really meaty leading role.

His CV is one any actor would be proud of, though very often playing the criminal or evil nemesis, so secondary to the main hero and likely to end up in a very bad way.

His part in this British thriller is once again on the wrong side of the law but has far more depth and more chance to develop the character.

In fact, he’s the best part of this movie which is the second offering from new British writer/director Eran Creevy, his first being Shifty (2008).

The plot sees Strong’s character (Jacob Sternwood), a mastermind criminal, coming back to London after his son is arrested.

James McAvoy is detective Max Lewinsky who a few years earlier had a violent run-in with Sternwood and came off second best.

From the trailer you might think this is a simple plot - will Sternwood rescue his son or will Lewinsky finally get his man? However, it is far more involved and there is an argument that the storyline is perhaps too complicated at times.

What can’t be argued is that, along with Strong, there are some great British actors.

McAvoy’s ‘London’ accent is a bit too Cockney on occasions but there’s no questioning his intensity as he comes to realise the depth of corruption around him.

Among other cast members, Peter Mullan (as Sternwood’s friend) is always superb and Daniel Kaluuya (a detective) and Johnny Harris (an ex-soldier) are also very good. The latter two were in the amazing BBC drama The Fades last year and it’s good to see them on the big screen.

The film had the backing of no less a figure than Sir Ridley Scott, which no doubt helped boost the budget. However, while some of the bigger effects are very good, it’s the smaller sets that provide the best moments.

If you enjoy seeing some fine British actors in a decent plot then this could be right up your street.

It’s a 15 certificate but the violence isn’t the kind that has you averting your eyes.

Overall, it’s an impressive step up for director Creevy who looks to have a good future.

Film details: Welcome to the Punch (15) 99mins

Director: Eran Creevy

Starring: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Peter Mullan

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley

Steve Payne