For a lot of reasons, I hate blurbs on the cover of home video releases. Either the quote is taken from somebody, so desperately aiming to be quoted, or, it’s taken out of context, which has happened to even little old me. If I had half of a penny for every time some pompous chum-scrubber has claimed that a film “Does for X what Jaws did to swimming in the ocean”, I could single-handedly solve world hunger. But, I understand that studios have a product they wish to sell you, and if you can find a quote from a journalist comparing your film to some beloved classic, it will probably double the impulse buys. How many times during the late nineties did you get burned at the video store, renting something because it was compared to a Tarantino film? One blurb on the back cover of Welcome To The Punch, compares the film to “crime sagas” of Michael Mann and Christopher Nolan. If you’ve seen Memento, or Heat, you know what a bold claim that is, and what a disadvantage such a quote puts Welcome to the Punch at. While you have the attention now, of fans of those two directors, you’ve also managed to insert those viewers into hyper-critical mode. So, you better damn well hope that your film delivers even one iota of the elements of those films, that has given them the status that surrounds them.
So, is Welcome to the Punch as good as Memento or Heat? The short answer is no, but as you may have guessed from above, I think it’s an unfair comparison to begin with. Welcome to the Punch is a completely different type of film than either of those. In actuality, if I were to compare Welcome to the Punch to any popular film from the past, it would be The Matrix. And, no, this film in no way fits into the Science Fiction genre. The reason I would compare it to The Matrix, is that it has a very noticeable, and very consistent green color scheme. On top of that, one of the things that I loved about The Matrix, personally, was the usage of flying shrapnel to make every exchange of bullets seem epic. When Neo would use a wall or an arch for cover, bullets would tear it to shreds, sending chunks of concrete flying in all directions. There is a lot of that here, and there is also a substantial use of slow motion. It’s not nauseating or overdone, but it does exist. For being made in the UK, though, there is certainly a ton of gun-play. It’s almost as if this was bottled up repression. If you like movies that involve people shooting at each other(and mostly missing), then this is one for you. I say this with confidence, as I am myself a person that often craves the sounds and intensity of a drawn out gunfight.
If I had to guess as to why the blurbed reviewer would have compared Welcome to the Punch to the films of Mann and Nolan, it would be that the story does try and assign major significance to each character. What makes Heat such a phenomenal movie, is that seemingly every character in the film, plays some sort of integral role in the progression of the narrative. Writer/director Eran Creevy clearly had this goal, but it seems like a lot of it never became reality. There are a lot of different players in this film, and some of them are very important to the outcome of the narrative, but there are also characters that feel like they should have been more important than they were. So, sometimes when a character is voted off of the island, so to speak, you feel like the director wanted you to care more than you actually do. It’s not a poorly written story, by any stretch of the imagination, but I got the feeling that it was less epic than originally intended. All of the actors do a great job with their respective roles. Fans of The Walking Dead will be happy to see David Morrissey is featured as a key character. In the lead role, is James McAvoy, who seems miscast for a film like this, but does a great job as a young, gun-certified cop, once shamed and desperate to prove himself to the world. Mark Strong, who carries an impressive body of acting work, but most of you will recognize as Frank D’Amico from Kick-Ass, is probably the stand-out performance here. While he doesn’t get as much screen time as McAvoy, he does an outstanding job bringing the bad guy of Welcome to the Punch to life.
While Welcome To The Punch may not break any molds when it comes to crime/action thrillers, it’s certainly a competently crafted example of one. Production values are fairly high, and the scope of the action is quite large. While it may not compare to Heat, I think if you find enjoyment within flashy, gun crazy and character drive action thrillers, you could do much worse than this film. I honestly enjoyed it quite a bit more than I thought I would, after reading through some opinions of some of the people I associate with. The Blu Ray looks great. It may be released by a smaller label(IFC) but the look of this film certainly competes with most new releases you’d see coming out of studios like Sony, or WB. The DTS-MA 5.1 audio track is more than serviceable. The soundtrack will fill your living room with the sound of bullets bouncing off of the walls behind you. There aren’t an exuberant amount of extra features on the disc, but there are a few, if you enjoy that type of thing. There are some brief interviews with cast and crew, a “Making Of” featurette, and of course, the theatrical trailer. Welcome to the Punch will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD, on July 23rd, from IFC Films.