Son Of A Gun is a fairly typical crime thriller, and by that I mean it’s full of all the crime thriller stuff that will be familiar to most viewers: a seasoned, vicious, ruthless armed robber (played by Ewan McGregor, whose performances have begun to improve of late after a bit of a dip), a younger criminal taken under his wing (Brenton Thwaites, puppydog eyes at the ready), a rapidly-developing father/son or master/apprentice dynamic, a beautiful femme fatale (Alicia Vikander, who has been in approximately 68% of all new releases in 2015), a bad guy who is worse than the other bad guys, a few double crossings, some meetings and exchanges that take place on patches of wasteland, a couple of violent shootouts and a sprinkling of scenes featuring sweaty men on the run holed up in motel rooms. Though such material can hardly be described as original it’s all executed well enough, truth be told, and occasionally when the action is ramped up this Australian film is actually pretty exciting; director Julius Avery (also the writer) has a flair for set pieces, and Son Of A Gun includes two in the middle that many of the genre’s more seasoned filmmakers would be proud of — a simple but tense prison break and a daring gold bullion heist, leading to a fierce gun battle with the cops and a high speed car chase.
That said, some of it is fairly hokey. Thwaites’ character JR meets McGregor’s Brendan Lynch and his cohorts in prison, with a chess game offering up some common ground before Avery turns it into a rather obvious metaphor for all the moves that follow on the outside. Lynch and his men can protect JR from being raped by other inmates, so it makes sense for him to buddy up when the offer comes, but it’s surprising just how quickly (and easily) JR fits into the armed robbery gang when the action moves away from the prison; JR’s six month stint in the big house is apparently for a minor crime, yet before long he’s acting like a career criminal, which is completely at odds with the character’s shyness and inexperience (he can’t swim and Vikander’s Tasha has to teach him how to use chopsticks). This naivety is kind of necessary in terms of selling the final act, but the character’s inherent contradictions take some credibility away from the screenplay. Ach…I don’t want to be too hard on it: it’s a muscular, slick film, very well paced, and considering it’s a first feature Avery shows plenty of promise.
Directed by: Julius Avery.
Written by: Julius Avery.
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Ewan McGregor, Alicia Vikander, Jacek Koman, Matt Nable, Tom Budge.
Cinematography: Nigel Bluck.
Editing: Jack Hutchings.
Music: Jed Kurzel.
Running Time: 109 minutes.