Welcome to the Punch

2013

Welcome to the Punch

Critics Consensus

Welcome to the Punch is a little deeper and more thoughtful than most police dramas -- but not quite enough to surmount its thinly written characters and numbing violence.

47%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 55

36%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,948
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Welcome to the Punch Photos

Movie Info

Former criminal Jacob Sternwood is forced to return to London from his Icelandic hideaway when his son is involved in a heist gone wrong. This gives detective Max Lewinsky one last chance to catch the man he has always been after. As they face off, they start to uncover a deeper conspiracy they both need to solve in order to survive.

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Cast

James McAvoy
as Max Lewinsky
Mark Strong (II)
as Jacob Sternwood
Andrea Riseborough
as Sarah Hawks
Johnny Harris
as Dean Warns
Peter Mullan
as Roy Edwards
David Morrissey
as Thomas Geiger
Elyes Gabel
as Ruan Sternwood
Daniel Mays
as Nathan Bartnick
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News & Interviews for Welcome to the Punch

Critic Reviews for Welcome to the Punch

All Critics (55) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (29)

Audience Reviews for Welcome to the Punch

  • Dec 07, 2014
    In "Welcome to the Punch," Ruan Sternwood(Elyes Gabel, of "Scorpion") tries to flee the country but faints because of a severe bullet wound before he can do so. Before he does, he places a phone call to his father Jacob(Mark Strong) who is wanted on pretty every charge imaginable and ironically allows the police to trace him to Iceland. But because the police do not take the advice of Detective Max Lewinsky(James McAvoy), Jacob is able to elude about half the Icelandic military in his escape. After which, Max is placed on the case full time, even as his partner Sarah Hawks(Andrea Riseborough) worries that he might be too emotionally involved, only to be expected considering that Jacob kneecapped him the last time he tried to capture him. "Welcome to the Punch" is a stylish crime thriller. However, it still suffers from some of the cliches of the genre, namely predictability, especially as it concerns one character's fate. What keeps this movie from being completely ordinary are the set pieces and Andrea Riseborough's cool impression. And then there is the great chemistry between Mark Strong and Peter Mullan which instantly elevates any scenes they share.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 25, 2014
    Welcome to the Punch does deliver the goods. It is a fast paced thriller. The style of the film reminded me of Michael Mann's style. The film did remind me of films like Killer Elite and Heat. The cinematography and editing are very good here. James McAvoy is great here. He is on a role with this and Trance. Mark Strong is a great foil for McAvoy. Their is a great build for both of them to collide. Andrea Riseborough, Peter Mullan, and David Morrissey provide solid supporting work here. It is a little predictable. However, that didn't bother me cause it is very entertaining. I definitely recommend this film.
    Sol C Super Reviewer
  • Oct 11, 2013
    Welcome to the Punch is the perfect example of a film too enamored with its own supposed cleverness. Set in against the backdrop of a criminal London underworld, the film follows a complex heist gone wrong storyline, one that quickly delves in to a web of political intrigue and relentless violence. Welcome of the Punch has all of the hallmarks of a dramatic noir-type genre piece. There is an abundance of wide-angle shots, a palpable tension, saturated colors, an atmospheric tone, and a methodical pace. Visually, the film is actually fairly impressive, capturing a stylized London in a gritty, yet eerie way, not unlike the great Michael Mann films. This is the good. The problem, however, is that the film essentially makes no sense. The plot is absurdly convoluted, disjointed, and incoherent. The characters talk with a deep-rooted intensity, and the actions seem as if there should be weight, yet it all falls on deaf ears because of one simple problem- the narrative. The film seems to get so caught up on its own supposed wit and cleverness, that the writers never realized the need for fleshed out characterizations and through-lines. The film simply goes past its audience, assuming we are fascinated with whatever is transpiring, meanwhile forgetting the need to fill us in on the way. In the end, the reveal demonstrates a silly premise, with no pay off. It's a Michael Mann style film with Tyler Perry level writing. The action also never works. It feels to randomized and needless to have any weight. The action scenes feel over-dramatized and over-written, as if so say-wasn't that audacious? In the end, a definite misfire. 2/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 31, 2013
    This film's title is missing someone slamming down a phone, triggering hard speed rock and a slow-motion explosion behind James McAvoy, it's so hardcore, which I suppose means that this film's title is actually more exciting than the film itself. No, this film is reasonably entertaining, but I don't know, I for one was kind of hoping for some more thrills out of this Danny Boyle film. Oh no, wait, this isn't "Trance", it's just another stylish, British, neo-noir crime thriller starring James McAvoy that people forgot is coming out. Jeez, jokes aside, this film is pretty similar to "Trance", and I just realized that the release dates of this film and "Trance" are separated by not even a whole two weeks, so maybe this film really is trying to ride off of the hype of "Trance", which should tell you about how under-marketed this film is, because hardly anyone's talking about "Trance" for whatever reason (Well, it is the director of "Trainspotting", "28 Days Later", "Slumdog Millionaire" and "127 Hours", so it was always doomed to be a commercial flop unworthy of heavy marketing). Well, it's not like they were going to heavily market this film's director and writer, because Wikipedia says that Eran Creevy is most "famous" for doing "Shifty", thus telling you that Wikipedia is, in fact, not always accurate, because there isn't anything famous about "Shifty", yet that didn't stop Jason Flemyng from hopping on board yet another film by Eran Creevy. Well, Flemyng is probably here because he figured that James McAvoy meant success, seeing as how "X-Men: First Class" earned so much money that a large share of it had to have gone to Flemyng for his little role as that red guy whose make-up made it impossible to tell that he was Flemyng. On top of that, McAvoy is just so darn charming that it's hard to not be somewhat interested in seeing one of his films, such as this one, which could use McAvoy's engagement value, because even though this thriller is decent, its "punch" gets watered down (Get it?) by several factors. Thrillers of this type keep momentum pumping more often than not, yet hardly all of them are consistent with their living up to the title of thriller, and seeing as how it is nothing if not a conventional thriller of its type, this film hits many a slow spell to support blandness, which, quite frankly, is most brought to life by an aspect that you would think would actually liven things up between the slow spells: style over substance. I wouldn't say that the film is as overstylized as certain people say, partly because what the style lacks in cooperation with substance it typically makes up for with effectiveness, but it should still come as no surprise that Eran Creevy is a seasoned music video director, as there are too many areas in which Creevy fleshes out style at the expense of fleshing out substance, resulting, not just in emotional distance, but in an unevenness in storytelling structure that would be more glaring if storytelling wasn't at least consistent in being too lazy to compensate for the writing issues. Well, in all fairness, it can't possibly be easy for Creevy, as director, to stand a chance of fully compensating for the problems with his script, whose same-old-same-old dialogue ranges from weak to, well, more-or-less embarrassing, and whose characterization is paper-thin, offering the barest minimum of development, if even that, while drawing superficial characters who have only so many layers. The performances, on the other hand, are strong enough to get you invested in the characters who conceptually drive what substance there is to this thriller, but there's not a whole lot to the characters on paper, and that gives you a chance to meditate upon how there isn't a whole lot to this story, though what decidedly reminds you of the thinness of intrigue the most is, of course, this underwhelming story's being just so blasted formulaic. After a while, the film's plot begins to take on a couple of refreshing beats, but on the whole, this story isn't simple familiar or conventional, but pretty much trite, hitting most every beat that you can think of in police thrillers of this type, and hard, feeling so lazy that it doesn't even put as much care as it should into keeping things generally refreshing. This would be alright and all if the film wasn't lazy in plenty of other areas of storytelling, being too unevenly paced, too focused on style over substance and too superficial with its characterization to escape underwhelmingness, as well as a great risk for collapse into mediocrity. Near-miraculously, the film is saved, taking its share of beatings from lazy spells in storytelling, but ultimately retaining decency, at least in its looks. One can hope that by focusing more on style than substance, director Eran Creevy really fleshes out the visual style of this film, but you can settle down, as the film isn't exactly stunning, though it is handsome, as cinematographer Ed Wild celebrates Creevy's uniquely icy taste in coloring with an often subtly dreamy lighting that consistently draws you into the thriller as a well-polished piece, and sometimes proves to be gorgeous. Again, the film isn't as frequently pretty as you might hope, but it is fairly good-looking all the way through, with some really pretty moments, and that's enough to give the film a reasonably strong visual style that makes the overstylization a bit easier to forgive, especially when it, along with most every other prominent stylistic touch, is really played up during the action sequences. Actually, maybe the action can't fully compensate for the overstylizing, because even it gets carried away with its frantic snappiness and playback speed plays (This film isn't quite "300", but seriously, what's with all of the slow-motion nowadays?), and it's not like you get completely used to that, as the action sequences are unevenly used, but when they do come into play, they're worth the wait, having a certain John Woo flavor to their dizzying staging and celebrations of such technical aspects as thumping sound mixing, snappy editing and lively filming. If this film this film has nothing else going for it, it's entertaining action and style, and some would argue that if Eran Creevy had his way, this film really would only have that going for it, because when it comes to substance, this film really is a mess, so much so that it runs the risk of collapse into mediocrity. Without directorial kick, films this lazily written and conventional can fall far, but, like I said, by some kind of miracle, the final product stands as reasonably engaging, largely thanks to the moments in which Creevy does get to be relatively realized as a storyteller without having to rely too much on style, gracing atmosphere with a certain thoughtfulness that soaks up what intrigue there is to this often rather superficial and familiar plot. Creevy keeps things lively enough to hold your attention, but what might ultimately secure the final product from mediocrity is the acting, which is, of course, not great, seeing as how there's little to the writing of the characters being portrayed by the talents in this cast, but still about as inspired as anything in this film, with Mark Strong being particularly impressive in his being convincing, like usual, as a brutal, yet bright, or at least somewhat human man of crime, while James McAvoy impresses even more, not just because he delivers on a wealth of charisma, as always, but because, through subtly human emotional layers, he captures the intensity and depth of the lead Max Lewinsky character, a man of the law whose faith has never been fully recovered since a failed case whose finally reentering his life inspires an obsession that will drive him into situations that he's not fully prepared for. So, yeah, like I said, even this film's characters are trite, but the performers deliver, with McAvoy pretty much carrying the film with a performance that is underwritten, but strong enough to bring his familiar role to life and anchor what effective substance there is to storytelling, which may be too lazy for the film to be firmly secured as decent, but has enough life to it to make a decent, if forgettable thriller, nonetheless. When the punch has arrived, slow spells, distancing overstylization, many a glaring subtlety issue, undercooked and superficial characterization, and seriously generic storytelling send the final product spiraling to the edge of mediocrity, into which it ultimately does not decent, as there is enough handsomeness to cinematography, thrills to action, inspired areas to direction and strong performances - especially the leading one by James McAvoy - for "Welcome to the Punch" (Seriously, if nothing else is kind of awesome about this film, it's that title) to entertain just fine as a decent thriller, even if it offers only so much worth remembering. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer

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