(US/UK - 2013)
Written and directed by Eran Creevy. Cast: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, David Morrissey, Peter Mullan, Johnny Harris, Jason Flemyng, Ruth Sheen, Daniel Mays, Natasha Little, Daniel Kaluuya, Elyes Gabel. (Unrated, 96 mins)
It won't win any points for originality, but the lean, mean WELCOME TO THE PUNCH is a highly entertaining British cop thriller produced by Ridley Scott and directed by the promising Eran Creevy, who achieved some acclaim for his 2008 debut SHIFTY. Creevy, a music video vet who cut his teeth as a production assistant on films by Matthew Vaughn (LAYER CAKE) and Danny Boyle (MILLIONS), is unquestionably a style-over-substance guy, as his script is pretty by-the-numbers with plot turns that barely twist, let alone surprise. But while his script may lack the punch promised by the title, it's obvious that Creevy worships at the altar of Michael Mann--not just in the big HEAT influence on PUNCH, but also in its look and feel, with everything drenched in a cold, blue sheen that brings scenes from vintage Mann classics like THIEF and MANHUNTER to mind. Like THE SWEENEY from a few weeks back, WELCOME TO THE PUNCH doesn't exactly forge a new path in the British crime genre, but it's diverting, well-acted, looks terrific, and doesn't try to be anything more than what it is.
...if they don't kill each other first!