James McAvoy, starring as detective Max Lewinsky, takes to the streets of London in this gritty crime thriller. Shot three years previous by ex-criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong), Lewinsky waits for Sternwood to come out of hiding after his son was shot and his friend killed. Ignoring authority Lewinsky is determined that Sternwood is part of the shootings and races to catch him out before he misses this long awaited opportunity for vengeance.
Alongside loose-cannon McAvoy is by-the-book Andrea Riseborough as his police partner Sarah Hawks. As she tries to deter him from the path set by his past you can see an interesting relationship unravel that could have been explored in more detail.
As for the action; it’s loud, exciting and well-scripted; there’s rarely a dull moment when the guns are drawn. But there’s sometimes a bit too much down time in between action sequences; especially in the first twenty minutes or so.
It’s during this time that the plot starts to form around the, slightly confusing, already established elements. While being somewhat generic with its rule-breaking police officer; its dark atmosphere sets it apart from other movies of its kind.
McAvoy’s character has his weaknesses and they make Lewinsky more believable; be they his damaged knee from the hands of Sternwood or thirst for revenge. The plot takes some interesting turns thanks to a few of the side characters but takes a while to come to this point.
Overall Welcome to the Punch is an interesting take on the maverick cop thriller genre with its dark tone and gritty storyline.
I give it a 4 stars out of 5.