Welcome to the Punch has all the ingredients of a great film: with the combination of a plot involving detective forced to work with his enemy, and a stellar cast including Mark Strong, James McAvoy and Peter Mullan that should all but guarantee a hit, right?
Although the film is exciting at points, with the twists and turns you’d expect from a film in that genre, the whole thing falls a bit flat. Max Lewinsky (McAvoy) is a detective still recovering from the physical and mental wounds inflicted by notorious career criminal Jacob Sternwood (Strong), when he becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that goes right to the top of the Met.
From that point, the details get a little hazy. The film can’t quite decide if it’s about arms dealing, or a somewhat bizarre plot to arm the Metropolitan Police, and you are never given anymore details about Sternwood’s past. There are a few points which are given a weird significance within the narrative, but then never mentioned again – but not in a Lynchian way, more in a ‘we forgot to resolve this’ way.
That’s not to say I hated it, I am a complete sucker for thriller films, but it felt formulaic, going over ground that has been tread a thousand times by films with not nearly as much potential as this one had. The prevalence of the blue tones in the mise en scene did lean it a cold, impersonal edge, almost making the film feel like it is in black and white, so drained of colour are some of the scenes, which was an interesting but effective choice.
A decent thriller film, that fell short of what it could have been.