Welcome to the Punch opens with master thief Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) walking out of the seemingly perfect heist as obsessed detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) speeds to the scene without waiting for back-up. Overheard on the police radio is “Do not go in without back-up! That’s order!” At this point, you know what you’re in for: the generic cop vs. criminal caper which has been done ad nauseum. But what you also get is the star power of two internationally renowned actors and a really cool looking London. It all depends on how much movie junk food one can handle.
After disobeying the aforementioned orders, Lewinsky chases after Sternwood and looses him after being shot in the leg--an injury he will carry with him when the story picks up three years later. Sternwood’s son is arrested and hopitalized due to a gunshot wound to the stomach sustained mysteriously enough prior to his boarding an airplane. Believing this will bring Sternwood out of hiding, Lewinsky’s obsession flares up and he becomes determined to arrest the man who burned him out.
The film is not without its flaws: formulaic plot, staged atmosphere, and an inordinate number of bullets in everyone’s magazine. But that is what ends up making “Welcome to the Punch” an overall entertaining 90 minutes. McAvoy and Strong in what appears to be a “fun” picture for them don’t go into the pitfall of just phoning it in as what happens with much of these types of films when produced in Hollywood. There exist moments of empathy and of relation which seem natural given the sometimes bloated nature of the style. It won’t win any awards and will probably fall into movie obscurity; but to just sit back and enjoy shoot-outs dabbled with the occasional explosion, Welcome to the Punch isn’t a time-waster.
Currently available for rent or purchase on Amazon Instant and iTunes.