Crime thrillers aren’t a genre you often see coming out of Australia, but Son Of A Gun is a better-than-average, action-packed thriller that proves you don’t need a Hollywood studio to make a good movie. Led by up and coming Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites, who has landed some major roles this year in Maleficent and The Giver, the film follows the story of JR, a nineteen-year-old boy who in the opening scene is being imprisoned for an unnamed crime, his sentence lasting six months. JR is overwhelmed and terrified of the way these prisoners treat each other, and quickly takes a liking to notorious criminal Brendan (Ewan McGregor), a seasoned prisoner who sits a top the jail hierarchy and who JR seeks protection from. But protection comes at a price, and JR is only granted this if he helps Brendan on the outside.
JR is immediately absorbed into a crime circle headed by Russian mobster, Sam (Jacek Koman), and becomes involved in a planned heist of millions of dollars worth of gold. But not everything is as you imagine in this world of violence, money and sex, and JR becomes aware that the perceived ‘honour among thieves’ might just be an illusion. Even when he falls for Tasha (Alicia Vikander), a young stripper working for Sam, JR begins to question who he can trust, if anyone at all.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I sat down to watch this film, particularly when so many others of its genre lack substance and are usually rely on superficial explosions and gun fights. But I was pleasantly surprised by Son Of A Gun, finding myself intrigued by the story line and the motivations of these characters, and by the time the end credits started to roll I was hooked. Writer and director Julius Avery has produced a thriller that pays more attention to the intricacies of the crimes being committed and the lives of its characters, and only incorporating action sequences when it makes sense to, not just to make a scene more exciting or visually engaging. The plot was clever and involved enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes, and while there was quite a bit of violence, it was almost always justified.
At the heart of this movie is a strong cast of Australian actors, alongside A-lister Ewan McGregor, who once again proves that he can tackle any role and come out on top. But the real star here is Brenton Thwaites who manages to bring an innocence to his character, even as he’s stealing millions of dollars. No matter the crimes he commits, you’re always rooting for him, which makes the film even more involving. The only issues I had with the film involved the writing, where at times the dialogue was dominated by f-bomb after f-bomb, to the point where it seemed unrealistic, and there were a few rather naff exchanges, particularly between JR and his romantic interest Tasha.
I thoroughly enjoyed Son Of A Gun, finding it a much better alternative to the over-produced crime thrillers that are constantly being pumped out of the Hollywood machinery. This Australian movie has more heart, is more intelligently made and is engaging right until the very end.
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