Son of a Gun, 2014.
Directed by Julius Avery.
Starring Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites, Alicia Vikander, Jacek Koman, Matt Nable, Tom Budge and Nash Edgerton.
JR busts out of prison with Brendan Lynch, Australia’s most notorious criminal, and joins Lynch’s gang for a gold heist that soon pits the two men against one another.
The grittiness of prison life is shown from the very start of Julius Avery’s debut feature film Son of a Gun. We’re introduced to 19 year old JR (Thwaites) as he enters a maximum security prison in Australia. We don’t know what he has done but an allegiance is quickly formed with notorious criminal Brendan Lynch (McGregor). After being released from prison, JR helps break Brendan out and chaos ensues.
Son of a Gun is visually stunning to watch. Cinematographer Nigel Bluck has outdone himself by showing the desolate areas of Australia, the baron rocks and all-consuming dust. Avery also demonstrates that he is a talent to watch as Son of A Gun moves at a great pace and the action sequences are directed with lightning intensity. From the prison escape through to a car chase throughout the streets; Avery doesn’t let the tension drop.
The same can’t be said for the plot of the film. Whilst hugely enjoyable to watch there is nothing in this film that we’ve not seen before. As soon as Brendan is free, it’s obvious how the tale will unfold and although this didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the film, it doesn’t make it ground breaking. A love story between JR and Tasha (Vikander) feels shoe horned into the film and it would have been much more interesting to watch the men struggle against each other instead of adding a love interest. Vikander’s performance suffers as her character is hugely underwritten.
Brenton Thwaites does well as the naïve JR, starting as a terrified boy in prison and becoming a man who can go toe to toe with Brendan. The real start of the film is McGregor as Brendan. His intense performance is what makes it stand out from a generic crime drama. Brendan is slightly unhinged, physically menacing, violent and yet he also has a sense of honour. McGregor once again demonstrates why he is one of the best actors working and that he isn’t afraid to push himself and take on something new – his next film Last Days in the Desert will see him diversify even further.
Son of a Gun is an impressive debut from Avery and it shows that Australian cinema is on the rise once again.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Helen Murdoch is a freelance writer – Follow me on Twitter