Title: Welcome to the Punch
HTS Overall Score:67.5
Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) is Max Lewinsky’s (James McAvoy) White Whale. As a young cop, Lewinsky gallantly pursued Sternwood and his gang of criminal buddies in a heated chase. Alone and full of zest and desire, Lewinsky disobeyed an order to stand-down and eventually found himself writhing in pain from a gunshot wound to the knee. Opting to merely injure the young cop, Sternwood escaped with his freedom along with Lewinsky’s pride and reputation. Lewinsky in turn made Sternwood enemy number one. Seems simple enough: Cop chases criminal, criminal spares cop, catching criminal becomes desideratum of cop.
Welcome to the Punch lays the ground work for what could have been a classic action thriller and does so with attitude. Fueled by a throbbing techno score, some nifty camera work, and its edgy greenish visual appearance, the film opens with a bang. But somewhere along the way Writer/Director Eran Creevy (Shifty) lets the movie collapse into what amounts to be a mess of character names involved in a confusing sinister plot. It has all the hallmarks of a movie that simply tries too hard to be complex when all it needs to be is simple.
The primary plot involves Sternwood and Lewinsky. Following the initial chase, Sternwood goes into hiding but is lured back to London by the sudden hospitalization of his son (Elyes Gabel). With the help of his his motherly and concerned partner, Sarah (Andrea Riseborough), Lewinsky – still hobbled by his wounded knee and ego – begins to track his number one nemesis. Along the way we are constantly reminded about Lewinsky’s injured knee. He’s either jabbing it with needles to drain its puss, such as one scene where he is in his car emptying his knee into a used coffee cup, or is (on more than once occasion) having Point Break moments where he aggravates it while pursuing Sternwood.
Sternwood is the master of escape, whether it be eluding capture at a house surrounded by police or a building chained shut, he always has a slick exit available. Eventually there comes a moment where Sternwood uses one of his Houdini escapes to save Lewinsky from a double-cross situation that surely would have led to his death. About this time, Sarah meets her demise while uncovering an illegal weapons ring. It just so happens that Sternwood uses Lewinsky to enter the hospital to see his son, what the pair finds is that both Sarah and Sternwood’s son are roommates in the morgue. In an odd twist of fates, the two enemies find themselves empathizing with each other and realizing they might just have a common cause.
Here’s where the story becomes unhinged. With the cop chases criminal plot over, the film changes its focus to the cop and criminal looking for those responsible. Cue the confusion. The underlying plot is full of names and faces of corrupt cops and politicians that are so poorly introduced (or not introduced at all) that its hard to place how they fit into the story, let alone care who they are. In the final moments of the movie, one of the villains spews a lengthy explanation as to who is involved in what and why it matters. It turns into a heap of names and the true nature of the criminal plot is... well... ridiculous.
Rated R for violence and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news/WTTP1.jpg[/img]MPI Media Group delivers a mixed bag when it comes to Welcome to the Punch’s 2.40:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC transfer. The highlight of the film’s visual presentation is undoubtedly its coloring. The entire movie is dominated by a greenish hue (think: The Matrix) with some scenes that tilt toward blue. This tinting is a unique visual effect that gives the movie an edgy and cold feel. The rest of the film’s visual qualities are all over the map. The movie begins with a scene that has a fair amount of noise, noticeable blocking, and shadow grain. However this is a flashback scene and those glaring issues subside for the most part as the rest of the movie is unveiled. Banding is occasionally evident in the background of scenes with bright backlighting, and darker scenes suffer from crush. Noteworthy grain is visible during pans of London’s nighttime cityscape shown during later stages of the film. Fine details, such as skin features and clothing is sharp in well lit scenes, but suffers when shadows are introduced.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/news/WTTP5.jpg[/img]Welcome to the Punch delivers a pleasing and relatively solid HD-DTS MA 5.1 audio presentation. The movie begins by immediately unveiling Harry Escott’s (A Mighty Heart) original score which spends the majority of the movie throbbing away with technoesque authority, frequently taking advantage of the rear channels with all sorts of electronic sounds. The film delivers quite a few invigorating effects associated with scene changes, such as a powerful echoing pulse that explodes from the front to rear channels or a gunshot blast that bleeds into a clap of thunder, that are down right cool. It also has plenty of rumbles to give the LFE channel a great workout. Subtle sounds, such as the burning sound associated with the drag on a cigarette or the flicking of cigarette ashes, are also detailed and audible. As mentioned, the surround channels get quite a workout in Welcome to the Punch. They are extremely active with echos, gunshots, and the like, along with ambient sounds such as rain fall, chatter in rooms, and wind. Dialog proves to be Welcome to the Punch’s Achilles heal. It varies from full bodied and sharp to narrow and tinny. It remains audible despite these changes, however variations in its presentation are noticeable. The characters’ accents in the film probably won’t help American viewers much in this department.
• Making of
The phrase “mindless entertainment” does not apply to Welcome to the Punch, it’s too bad that’s the case. The film has generally good visuals, including a wicked cool greenish hue, and moments of absolutely spectacular audio. Unfortunately the film strangles itself with a plot that is best described as unnecessarily confusing. Perhaps I’m alone in this opinion, but the end of film left me scrambling through my notes looking for clarity. It doesn’t help that the complexities created by Writer/Director Eran Creevy are crammed into an hour and half of time. That’s simply not enough time to properly introduce and flesh-out characters to give the ending any urgency or importance. It’s hard to recommend Welcome to the Punch. For those looking for an interesting movie, visually speaking, or some slick audio, I’d suggest renting a copy and giving it a spin. Otherwise, I’d reach for other titles before looking to this one.
Starring: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riesborough
Directed by: Eran Creevy
Written by: Eran Creevy
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: MPI Media Group
Runtime: 99 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 23, 2013
Buy Welcome to the Punch Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rental, Possible Pass