Sunday 24 February 2019

Son of a Gun - 'it’s done extremely well and with a great deal of verve'

Son of a Gun
Son of a Gun

George Byrne

(Thriller. Starring Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites, Alicia Vikander, Jacek Koman, Matt Noble, Tom Budge. Directed by Julius Avery. Cert 15A)

3*

If 2014 saw Jack O’Connell zoom up the rankings of promising actors then already this year would seem to hold something similar for Alicia Vikander.

Already this month the Swedish actress has played Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth, a sentient robot in Ex Machina and now, here she is in the debut from Australian writer/director Julius Avery.

Granted, Vikander’s part is a relatively minor one, the thankless task of playing a Russian moll, but she acquits herself admirably and the camera clearly loves her in this hardly original but thoroughly enjoyable thriller.

Avery mixes and matches several well-worn genres here and mostly gets the balance right between outright theft and homage.

In the beginning we’re introduced to JR (Brenton Thwaites), a young man sentenced to a short spell in a maximum security prison (why someone doing six months would be sent to such a jail is odd but we’ll move swiftly along) and clearly terrified at the prospect of what awaits him.

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At this stage of the film we’re strictly in Oz/Starred Up/A Prophet territory as, in order to escape the brutal sexual attentions of a vicious group of hardened cons, JR comes under the protective wing of Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor), an armed robber who initially seems too good to be true.

Sure enough, Lynch ensures that JR helps organise a spectacular jailbreak once he’s released and we’re into the next phase of the story.

Following the prison break, Lynch and his cronies organise the inevitable ‘one last job’, a raid on an isolated goldmine, by which time the young lad has fallen for the beautiful but clearly out of his league Tasha (Vikander) and Avery can’t help but get in touch with his inner Michael Mann.

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To say that the centre chunk of Son of a Gun owes a debt to Heat barely begins to cover things, from a heist which is jeopardised by a psychotic gang member to the way his camera loves to shimmer in the night scenes, the comparisons are inevitable in terms of story and look. That said, it’s done extremely well and with a great deal of verve.

Well worth a look.

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