The predictable James McAvoy action thriller climbing Netflix
(Credit: Netflix)


The predictable James McAvoy action thriller climbing Netflix

It’s a new day, but old patterns persist. We have yet another formulaic action flick storming the top ten films chart on Netflix. This one stars James McAvoy, Mark Strong, and Andrea Riseborough, who earned a controversial nomination for her role in To Leslie in last year’s Oscar.

Netflix’s latest adrenaline rush, Welcome to the Punch, has ascended to the sixth spot on Netflix’s top ten films list in the UK. Directed by Eran Creevy, who also co-wrote the screenplay, Welcome to the Punch follows the classic trope of a relentless detective (McAvoy) pursuing a criminal mastermind (Strong) against the backdrop of gritty urban landscapes and explosive gunfights.

Creevy earned an Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer award nomination at the BAFTA for his previous film Shifty. When Collider asked Creevy what inspired the idea for Welcome to the Punch, he explained, “I actually grew up on a diet of graphic novels and Hong Kong action cinema.”

He was aware that his debut feature might have set expectations up too high, “[Shifty] was a very low-budget, socio-realist, urban thriller that was set around my hometown, where I grew up in England. It was very much like a Shane Meadows/Ken Loach/Mike Leigh style of movie. It was very realistic. So, it becomes expected that you’re going to make another Ken Loach/Mike Leigh type movie.” 

On the surface, the premise seems like a fairly enjoyable, albeit predictable, ride between two formidable foes drenched in adrenaline-pumping action sequences. Yet, Welcome to the Punch is little more than a predictable spectacle, offering little in terms of substance or originality.

Despite the talents of its cast, the film struggles to rise above its clichéd story and paper-thin characters. James McAvoy, typically a captivating presence on screen, is reduced to a one-dimensional caricature of the brooding cop archetype. Strong, while undeniably charismatic, is given little to work with in terms of character development, serving as little more than a generic villain.

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times even labelled the film an “enjoyable absurdity” with moments of unintentional hilarity. Indeed, there is a certain amount of unintended humour in the film’s over-the-top action sequences and stilted dialogue. And that is why Welcome to the Punch might serve well as an adequate guilty pleasure.

You can watch Welcome to the Punch on Netflix and catch the trailer here: