Eran Creevy's debut Shifty was one of the finds of 2009. Made for £100,000, and set almost entirely on a London housing estate, it was a crime drama about friendship and fresh starts that marked Creevy out as a writer-director with some serious smarts when it came to characters, tension and making a little money go a long way. At the time of Shifty's release, Creevy talked about the next film he was writing, a cops-and-robbers thriller with the intriguing title Welcome to the Punch. It's been a long time coming - and the wait hasn't been worth it.
McAvoy plays Max Lewinsky, a detective whose personal and professional life have gone south. Three years earlier, Lewinsky was shot by Jacob Sternwood (Strong) while trying to arrest him during a big score getaway. Left with a wet noodle of a leg and haunted by if-onlys, Lewinsky goes through the motions with the job, really only interested in the one case and winding up partner and on-off lover Sarah Hawks (Riseborough) with his lack of commitment on the beat and elsewhere. But just when it seems like Lewinsky is on the long, slow trudge to retirement (or dismissal), he gets his chance at redemption: Sternwood's hideaway has been found.
In the big(ger) budget, big city bluster of Welcome to the Punch Creevy has lost sight of the things that made him special in the first place - money can only help so much if what's on screen is weak. Despite assembling a great cast, the cat-and-mouse dynamic between McAvoy and Strong's characters is no Heat-like, divided loyalties nail-biter, with the story too far-fetched (amazing how one of the most wanted and distinctive-looking men in Britain can come back home and get around no bother), too hung up on exposition and too rushed. Save for one great stand-off scene, there is nothing here that straight-to-DVD jobs don't do just as 'well', while last year's The Sweeney did it a lot better.
Another submission to the Lost Mojo Office.