Runtime: 108 Mins
What To Expect: Sturdy enough gangster thriller, but almost ruined by romantic slush
Small time criminal Brendan Thwaites ends up doing a six month stretch in an Australian jail. He learns that a top priority in such an environ, to quote Sean Connery, is ‘avoiding gangrape in the showers’. His best bet is to accept the hand of friendship/protection from gang boss Ewan McGregor, who Thwaites impressed by offering tips on beating opponents in chess. That though, comes at the price of being ‘blood in’, a part of McGregor’s criminal outfit for life. That’s the story of Son of a Gun, which combines several manly movie genres from prison bust out to heist movie. You should probably check it out if you get a chance.
I’m partial to an Australian crime thriller, they tend to cut the chaff in their movies and have a certain sense of realism that Hollywood isn’t too keen on. Son of a Gun starts out that way, but a few things let it down in that regard so first I’m going to get the negatives out of the way. Firstly neither of the two leads convince me as criminals. McGregor fails to come across to me as an intimidating gang boss, he’s way, way below the likes of, say, Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast. McGregor is like the type of person who’d get beaten up and have his shoes stolen by some gangbangers. Neither is Thwaites convincing as his protege. He’s a ‘Home and Away’ pretty boy and try as he might, he can’t hide it.
The other, bigger, problem, is the dreaded romantic subplot. It rears its ugly head and only gets more aggressive as the movie goes on, heavily involving itself in the conclusion. It takes away from the meanness and pacing of the movie and is as predictable as you’d think. If this was cut out of the movie then it would’ve been one of the manlier movies of 2014.
There’s otherwise enough to keep it watchable though. You can’t say too much about the plot as it’s story-driven, but there’s a nice prison escape followed by a heist of millions in gold bullion. The action scenes that make up these parts are also well executed. My compliments to the director for giving us a lucid eye-view of what happens in these scenes as opposed to, y’know, covering his lack of talent by ordering the cameraman to shake his equipment.