Film Capsule: Welcome to The Punch

Poor poor Jimmy McAvoy – forever playing second fiddle to a star. First came Keira Knightley in Atonement. Then a surging Michael Fassbender in X-Men:First Class. And now, in a more recent twist, McAvoy’s been taken to the woodshed once again.

Yet the problem – in almost every case – is that McAvoy absolutely insists upon doing his Little-Big-Man routine. He’s constantly yelling, or stewing, or harumphing to no end. Consider, for example, McAvoy’s role in Welcome to The Punch – a mid-range thriller, featuring a pair of taut performances by Johnny Harris and Mark Strong. What brings The Punch down to its knees – time and time and time again – is Mr. McAvoy’s whole stammer-stammer-kick routine. I mean, on the one hand, it seems like McAvoy was specifically cast to elevate Strong. On the other, it’s McAvoy’s consistent lack of anything that ultimately diminishes his role. It’s like watching a poor man’s Jeremy Renner, despite the fact no one wants to watch the real Renner at all.

And the utter shame of it – at least in so far as Welcome to The Punch might be concerned – is that poor poor Jimmy McAvoy just tends to feel more like a liability. For it’s not only Strong that outshines him in this film. The entire supporting cast does as well. And that, well, that certainly does not bode well for the Napoleonic Mr. McAvoy, regardless of where B-List celebrity should take him from here.

(Welcome to The Punch arrives in limited release today, and will be available via most OnDemand platforms as of March 30th.)