17th Jul2013

‘Welcome To The Punch’ DVD Review

by Ian Loring

Stars: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough, Johnny Harris, Daniel Mays, David Morrissey, Peter Mullan, Natasha Little, Daniel Kaluuya, Ruth Sheen, Jason Flemyng | Written and Directed by Eran Creevy

WTTP-cast

Directors making a step up in their second film seems to be becoming a micro-trend of late. For example, Marc Webb went from manic pixie dream girl rom-com (500) Days of Summer to mega-budget franchise reboot The Amazing Spider-Man and Gareth Edwards is currently finishing up shooting on his risky Godzilla reboot for Warners after creating much of his first feature Monsters essentially in his own house. While not as much of a seismic shift as those two examples, this general rule still applies to Eran Creevy, a man who went from the Film London Microwave scheme funded Shifty to his second feature, the Ridley Scott backed, impressively cast action-thriller Welcome To The Punch, a film which while not quite being a revolution in Britflicks, is a hell of an impressive sophomore effort, and especically considering the challenges involved.

A major bone of contention in my personal viewing of Britflicks is that frankly, they often don’t look as if they deserve to be on the big screen, in fairness thanks to budget or shooting schedule more than a filmmaker’s talent usually, but one thing which could never be levelled at Welcome To The Punch is that it doesn’t deserve its cinematic status.

From the start Ed Wild’s cinematography impresses with a future-blue pallete concocted for London with McAvoy framed against a sea of concrete and electricity, a look for London which feels incredibly photogenic and hyper-styilised, which eventually gives way to a grittier feel as the film’s plot machinations starting throwing up dirt. INSERT’s score also impresses lending a bombastic and big-budget feel to proceedings which again amps up the film’s cinematic styling.

Eran Creevy’s sense of handling tension and action is also a real boon. The way he ratchets up suspense before proceedings speaks of a filmmaker with more experience under his belt and while some of the action feels on-paper to be old hat, a slow-motion sequence in particular, the work done beforehand makes it feel like a more successful release than anything stale in the slightest. He also gets successful performances from his actors, James McAvoy giving decent grizzled and haunted throughout while Mark Strong and Peter Mullan make a uniquely intoxicating pairing when they are on screen.

All of this does paper over the film’s faults well though they are certainly there to be addressed. In the DVD extras, Creevy talks of how he started with a 180 page first draft, so by the time we finish with a just over 90-minute film, it’s no surprise that proceedings feel a little muddled. What starts off as an intriguing duel between a cop out for revenge and a thief motivated by more personal concerns than his bank balance starts flowering out into something involving twists turns and governmental conspiracies which feels like its part of a larger story but not wholly the story we have here. While its commendable that the film gets through so much in this runtime, it does make the film have a less satisfying film than was intended.

Saying this though, Welcome To The Punch is a film which shows that we can play with the big boys of the genre when ambition and a budget is put in. I hope this has a better life on home release then what we got in its cinema run.

Welcome To The Punch comes to DVD with a solid video transfer and a nicely crunchy Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track along with two 18 minute features, a conventional making-of and a better Q&A with director, producer and Mark Strong which gives some fun anecdotes about the film’s production history and gives a solid insight into Creevy’s ambition.

 **** 4/5

Welcome To The Punch comes to DVD and Blu-Ray this Monday 29th July, through Momentum Home Entertainment.

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