HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Son of a Gun
HTS Overall Score:73
Aussie films as of late have carried with them a sort of gritty introspection which I’ve really taken a shine to. The last of Lionsgate’s A24 Aussie film sets was the fantastic post-apocalyptic adventure “Rover”, and while “Son of a Gun” doesn’t live up to the excellence of “Rover”, it’s still a fun little crime thriller that ended up being a lot better than I expected. Based upon a true life criminal, Brendan Lynch, the movies weaves a tale about robbery, deception, betrayal and ultimately a happy ending. The story itself is play by the numbers, but a good dialogue team keeps the stakes high and the story intriguing.
JR (Brenton Thwaites) is sent away to prison for some unnamed crime his life is changed forever. Caught up in the prison world, JR learns that you need friends to survive. His friends come in the form of Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor), Australia’s most wanted felon. Becoming Brendan’s apprentice, JR leaves prison only to come back with backup and breaks Brendan out. Now the two form a weirdly co-dependent relationship that seems as if it will turn the men into rich rich men, or at each other’s throats. Brendan’s employer, Sam (Jacek Koman), turns them onto the score of a lifetime. A set of six gold bricks worth almost $5 million is all at their fingertips, if they can get in and get out without harm. The score goes through, but now without casualties as several people die and Sam ends up double crossing them.
Now the two men are left to fend for themselves and things get dicey. JR is resentful of Brendan’s domineering personality and treatment of JR’ love interest, Tasha (Alicia Vikander), and soon the two men are barely on speaking terms. As with most movies, the woman worms herself between the two men and trust is thrown out the window. The tables turn when JR and Tasha come up with a plan to get their portion of the gold without Brendan double crossing them and leaving them with nothing.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40578[/img]I was a bit leery of “Son of a Gun” after being rather disappointed with “Vice”, but I actually ended up really like the little crime thriller. It’s not an exceptionally clever movie, as it punches all the right check marks next to the crime/thriller playbook, but the solid dialog and solid ending left me feeling rather pleased with the movie. There’s the standard love relationship that puts the whole job at jeopardy, the double crossing crime lord, and the twist near the end is normally clichéd, but in the context of this movie was one that I didn’t see coming. Ewan McGregor is always a personal favorite of mine, and it’s interesting to see the Scot playing in an Aussie film (and his accent isn’t half bad) as the lead. Ironically, even though Ewan McGregor is on the cover and portrayed in the trailer as the lead, it’s really Brendan Thwaites character that takes the center stage. It’s his story and his ending, with McGregor taking second billing as the secondary character.
Brendan and Ewan play rather well off of each other, with Brendan playing the slightly naïve protégé, while Ewan plays a rather complex character who’s both dark and likeable at the same time. There are times where you really think Ewan is the scum of the earth, yet at the same time, that boyish charm he has really makes you like the man. Alicia is kind of the weak point here, as her character feels crammed into the storyline just to fulfill a quote of having at least one love interest in a movie like this. Her acting is so so and without her I felt the movie would have felt a bit more tightly woven. My only really BIG complaint is with the sequence in the laundry mat where Ewan McGregor meets his fate. It seemed to happen without explanation and felt like a scene was cut that would have explained that a bit more.
Rated R for violence, language throughout, some sexuality, nudity and drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40586[/img]The 2.40:1 AVC encoded transfer from Lionsgate looks very good, with a nice earthy color grading that shifts from copious browns and yellow tones, to rather cool and neutral at the drop of a hat. The detail is strong throughout the film and boasts some very nice textures and little nuances to the image. Flesh tones looks surprisingly accurate considering the color grading and the contrast is normally stable. I did notice a few times where the contrast was pushed a bit hot and some blooming occurs at those moments. Black levels look impressive and besides those moments of blooming contrast where the darks get a tad washed out, they hold up quite well. The clarity is impressive, but there is a layer of softness that covers the film from beginning to end and robs some of the finest detail expect in some of the up close shots. It looks intentional as the color grading, the softness and the contrast levels gives the film a decidedly bleak look to it, much like the tone of the movie.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=40594[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track does quite a good job at rendering the atmosphere of the film and gives us a very pleasing experience. The dialog is clean and clear, with crisp vocals and some solid integration with the rest of the effects. The surrounds are used quite often, with moments of silence interrupted by explosive gunfire and the ambient noises that give a film detail. LFE is present and pounds when necessary, but is surprisingly soft at other times. The electronic score adds a sense of foreboding and intensity to the movie that sounds very unique for American film lovers. I did notice that the music sometimes felt like it was recorded a tad hot, as it sometimes drowned out a bit of the films natural noise, but it wasn’t wildly apparent. Overall, a solid track that does a good job with the limited sound design that comes from a DTV release.
• Partners in crime: The making of Son of a Gun
• Feature length commentary with writer/director Julius Avery
“Son of a Gun” isn’t going to reinvent the wheel when it comes to crime dramas, but it certainly is a fun movie that is a nice change of pace from your standard Hollywood fare. It’s dark and gritty while still having a sense of childish fun about it, and doesn’t take on the art house flare that so many A24 films are laden with, making it much more palatable for the average film goer. Audio and video are quite solid for the release, with the only weak point being the anemic extras on the disc. Definitely worth a rental to check it out. Recommended.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites, Alicia Vikander
Directed By: Julius Avery
Written By: Julius Avery, John Collee
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 109 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 17th 2015
Buy Son of a Gun On Blu-ray at Amazon
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