Son of a Gun

"Very Good"

Son of a Gun Review


This may not be the brightest thriller in the cinema, but it's made with such a ripping sense of energy that it's thoroughly entertaining. With his first feature, Australian filmmaker Julius Avery packs the screen with intense characters, raucous set-pieces and suggestions of all kinds of metaphorical meaning. He also assembles a terrific cast of actors willing to chomp merrily on the scenery. So even if the movie never actually cracks the surface, it's a true guilty pleasure.

Set in Western Australia, the film centres on 19-year-old JR (Brenton Thwaites), who begins a six-month stint in prison with a determination to rise to the top. His bravado nearly gets him killed, but he boldly aligns himself with notorious criminal Brendan (Ewan McGregor), and in exchange for protection inside JR agrees to help Brendan from the outside. Sure enough, in six months Brendan launches an audacious prison break, after which he and Brendan get to work with dodgy mobster Sam (Jacek Koman) on an even more elaborate gold heist. JR is loving the gangster lifestyle but still refuses to follow the rules, which puts him on a collision course with Sam as he openly flirts with Sam's prized moll Tasha (Alicia Vikander). Now JR thinks he can steal Tasha, ditch Brendan and get away with the gold. As if.

Yes, the film is a web of double-crosses and betrayals, none of which is much of a surprise. All of the final act's twists and turns are loudly announced early on, as are the strained metaphors of chess-playing criminals and father-son mentoring. Avery's script and direction constantly suggest that nothing is what it seems, although it's hard not to see what's really going on. But what's on-screen is so much fun that we don't mind at all. Thwaites, McGregor, Vikander and Koman all have a great time playing with our expectations. Each character is cocky and sure that they're in control, when it's clear that they're not. And the sparks between them make each scene sizzle.

Best of all is the chemistry between JR and Brendan, a mixture of respect and rivalry that plays with the idea of being either a lover or a fighter (or a bonobo or a chimp, to use their repeated ape metaphor). This more than makes up for the lack of any real suspense in the story, as does the sure-handed approach Avery takes to each of the energetic action set-pieces, which shift the genre from prison thriller to heist caper to gangster drama as it goes along. So not only is the movie a thrillingly enjoyable ride, but it marks Avery as a filmmaker to watch.

Son of a Gun Trailer

 



Son of a Gun

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 11th December 2014

Distributed by: A24

Production compaines: Media House Capital, Altitude Film Entertainment, Bridle Path Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Julius Avery

Producer:

Starring: as Brendan, as JR, Matthew Nable as Sterlo, as Private Wilson, as Chris, as Sam, Jesse McGinn as Swimsuit Girl

Also starring: ,

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