The killer punch

(From left to right) ANDREA RISEBOROUGH as Sarah Hawks and JAMES MCAVOY as Max Lewinsky in WELCOME TO THE PUNCH
(From left to right) ANDREA RISEBOROUGH as Sarah Hawks and JAMES MCAVOY as Max Lewinsky in WELCOME TO THE PUNCH

FOR more than a decade, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels has spawned an array of home-grown crime thrillers awash with dodgy geezers, graphic violence and Cock-er-ney rhyming slang.

If the recent big screen version of The Sweeney and now Eran Creevy’s heavily stylised Welcome To The Punch are any indication, the wheeling and dealing is moving into Docklands.

Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is an inexperienced yet ambitious detective, who attempts to take down notorious criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong).

Disobeying orders, Max chases after Jacob without any back-up and is shot in the leg.

Three years later, the gung-ho battle-scarred detective is gifted a chance at redemption.

Welcome To The Punch is an engrossing if somewhat underpowered thriller, hung on a serpentine plot that cocks a snook at the political establishment.

McAvoy and Strong are both solid in highly physical roles, allowing the tears to flow in quieter moments tinged with tragedy and heartache. Riseborough is woefully short-changed but makes the most of her limited screen time.

Harry Escott’s urgent score creates a brisk tempo for the action sequences that trade heavily on slow-motion and the sight of actors sliding and somersaulting through hails of bullets.