Welcome to the Punch (2013)

(On Cable TV, January 2015)  As it turns out, there is a thinner line than I thought between cool and ridiculous.  This can be best shown using Welcome to the Punch, a British crime thriller that tries so hard to look cool that it eventually become laughable despite itself.  Much of the film isn’t too bad, though: The cinematography of the film (finding surprising beauty in the blue-hued glass buildings in night-time London) is stylish and striking, and James McAvoy has seldom looked more self-assured as a once-wounded police officer forced to ally with a career criminal (Mark Strong, also good) in order to take down a bigger operation.  Director Eran Creevy scores a few great sequences, including a grabbing opening sequence, and a mid-movie slow-motion living-room confrontation.  Unfortunately, the wheels start coming off mid-way through as a sympathetic character is badly killed (maybe even excessively killed, if it’s possible to overstate it), and the film then incongruously ramps up the cool factor until it exceed maximum pretentiousness levels shortly before the night-set loading docks ending sequence.  By the time the protagonist (again) rises up (again) in slow-motion with (again) a shotgun, it’s hard not to laugh at the film’s expense.  Which is too bad, because McAvoy and Strong are pretty darn cool when they don’t have to overplay their moments, and the direction has its moments before falling off the cliff of obnoxiousness.  It’s hard to avoid thinking that with a slightly defter touch, Welcome to the Punch could have been much better.

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