Son of a Gun – Film Review
Bobby Townsend checks out the much anticipated feature debut of award winning Australian director Julius Avery:
Having absolutely devoured the incredible Starred Up earlier in the year, my appetite for gritty crime dramas has been well and truly whetted. So it was with excitement that I took in Son of a Gun, the story of a young lad who becomes embroiled in a world of crime when he is taken under the wing of Australia’s Public Enemy Numbero Uno.
Brenton Thwaites is great as JR, a 19-year-old who was locked up for a minor crime. He displays levels of false bravado, fear, and confusion that seem pretty spot-on as he is forced to quickly learn the harsh realities of prison life. Meanwhile, Ewan McGregor, while filling an unusual role, is still… well… just Ewan McGregor, as he plays Australia’s most notorious criminal, Brendan Lynch. Handsome, charming and with that trademark disarming smile and twinkle in his eye, he displays the kind of charisma you need from a gangster in such a narrative as this.
Lynch offers JR protection from the local prison rapists in exchange for him playing a pivotal role in his own escape, once JR has finished his six-month sentence. A daring prison break is planned, after which a series of heists follow.
While there is a good pace throughout, the film is definitely at its strongest when set in the prison. There is a sense of disquiet, of fear and violence rumbling under the surface. The breakout sequence is very is exciting too. Things become a little less interesting and perhaps more formulaic when a love story develops and when the heists start happening. Some of the dialogue was a little clunky at times too. For instance, as Lynch bids farewell to a dead prison friend, he utters something like “There’s no parole where you’re going…”
But overall, Son of a Gun is entertaining and the two leads are very engaging. It doesn’t come close to something like Animal Kingdom or Starred Up but then, let’s be honest, what does?
Son of a Gun is released in Australia on 16 October and will make its international premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.
Review by Bobby Townsend.