These two films have a couple of things in common namely London and James McAvoy. Welcome to the Punch shows us parts of London never before featured in a movie and has McAvoy as a jaded detective who let bank thief Jacob Sternwood (excellently played by Mark Strong) get away, Trance in comparison gives us London seen through the eyes of Danny Boyle who has a brilliant eye for colour and has McAvoy playing a debt riddled auction house employee who helps nick a painting and then forgets where he has put it.
As I said before, when I reviewed X-Men First Class, because of his excellent acting ability McAvoy sometimes seems to land roles that don’t fit his rather slight frame and youthful good looks. In Welcome to the Punch I think he is once again mis-cast. We are given a quick action sequence at the start of the film when Max Lewinsky (McAvoy) fails to stop Sternwood’s latest heist and then the timeframe rolls forward. Sternwood is in hiding in Iceland and Lewinsky is looking like a scruffy student no different to how he did in the previous time frame. It didn’t really work for me. Ray Winstone may have been a better choice for the role, or Bernard Butler, someone with a little more umph! McAvoy in my opinion suits roles where he plays an innocent hero forced into a situation and rising to a challenge e.g. his excellent turn as Wesley along side bum-lips Jolie in Wanted.
The story of Punch is quite straight forward and like many stories before it sees the detective and criminal teaming up against a third common enemy by the end of the film. It’s okay but not really a ‘keeper’ in my collection of films.
Trance is certainly a more interestingly plotted and visually entrancing film. Vincent Cassel is excellent as the bad guy and Rosario Dawson is convincing as the hypnotherapist who gets called in to try and get Simon (McAvoy) to remember where he put a stolen painting. There are a number of good plot twists and it is a well-paced film which keeps you confused about the line between reality and hypnotically suggested fantasy – no surprise therefore to read that it has been compared to Inception in that respect. There is a rather bad gaff where McAvoy seems to have more bullets than he should near the end of the film, but that aside it is a well executed thriller which, for reasons I won’t go into, reminded me in places of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.