is a long cinematic tradition of gangsters and gunmen who were short of
stature, but long on presence. Scottish Ewen McGregor follows in the footsteps
of less than towering giants like Edward G. Robinson as hardboiled Australian lifer
Brendan Lynch, delivering a batch of rather charismatic villainy in Julius
Avery’s Son of a Gun (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
is unclear whether J.R. and his feeble excuse for a moustache will survive
prison, but his roommate is a certain goner. Attracting the unwelcomed
attention of a hirsute biker rape gang, J.R. makes a deal for protection from
Lynch and his associates. In return, once he is paroled, the kid will arrange
the details of Lynch’s escape and serve as his management trainee assistant thereafter.
Frankly, J.R. could use some direction, so this arrangement is win-win for him.
Then he gets an eyeful of Tasha, one of the Russian women “kept” by Lennox, the
Euro crime-boss, who finances Lynch’s operations.
Lennox has a job for Lynch once he is at-large: an honest to gosh gold mine.
The logistics will be a mess, but Lynch and his cronies need the money and are
itching for action. After all, what could go wrong, aside from that thing with
Tasha and Lynch’s generally erratic nature?
Son is a pretty
entertaining little shoot ‘em up, almost entirely thanks to McGregor. Grizzled
but wiry, he has the presence of a coiled spring, ready to launch at any
moment. He seriously projects a sense of potential danger, making up for his
lifeless appearance in Ossage County.
Unfortunately, Brenton Thwaites could not possibly be any duller, truly fading
into the background as the dumb and inexperienced J.R. Frankly, it is still
unclear whether Alicia Vikander will really crossover. She seems uncomfortable
vamping it up as a femme fatale, but her Tasha has enough intelligence and
poise to totally out-class Thwaites.
when Avery is getting down to criminal business, Son works pretty well. The escape sequence is impressively mounted
and might just give other potential accomplices ideas. Likewise, the big heist
also qualifies as well staged bedlam. However, during quieter times, the film
is conspicuously over-written. Avery drives a bit about chimps and bonobo
monkeys (decide which best represents your nature, padawan) so deeply into the
ground, you’d think he was drilling for oil.
is never really surprising, per se, but it executes
its crosses and double-crosses with admirable energy. Nobody is slacking off
here, except maybe Thwaites’ facial hair, but McGregor truly takes possession
of the film. We really haven’t seen him stretch out in this direction before,
but he pulls it off. Recommended overall for fans of prison-heist-noir hybrids,
Son of a Gun opens this Friday (1/23)
in New York at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: Australian cinema, Ewen McGregor, Heist Movies, Prison movies