Son of a Gun (2 stars)

Son of a Gun

Misfiring Australian crime flick starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites

Locked up for a misdemeanour, naïve young Aussie JR (Brenton Thwaites) only survives his hellish prison experience under the wing of notorious criminal Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor). Brendan’s protection doesn’t come for free, however, and JR soon finds himself embroiled in a dangerous series of events.

Writer-director Julius Avery won international awards for his 2008 short Jerrycan, but his feature debut is unlikely to garner such acclaim. Yet another in an increasingly long line of films that wear their influences like brash badges of honour, Son of a Gun plays like a shambolic homage to the full throttle work of Tony Scott and Michael Bay. While the story nods at more interesting themes of patriarchal relationships and the intricacies of organised crime, it's delivered via a barrage of action movie clichés – explosive car chases, strip club meetings – all underscored by a bombastic soundtrack. Even a recurring chess motif, which speaks to JR’s plight, is handled with the subtlety of a foghorn.

The characters don’t fare any better. Both Thwaites and McGregor are fine performers, but JR and Brendan are drawn in such broad, obvious strokes that it’s impossible to get under the skin of their dynamic. And it should come as no surprise that the women of the piece are reduced to mere eye-candy – a particular travesty when you have an actress as good as Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) in your cast. As Tasha, an Eastern European escort with a heart of gold who falls for JR, she is nothing more than male fantasy writ large.

Australia has produced a raft of exceptional crime movies in recent years, including Animal Kingdom and The Square (whose director Nash Edgerton takes a supporting role here). Son of a Gun, however, is not one of them; as dull as it is unashamedly derivative, it is a complete misfire.

General release from Fri 30 Jan.

Son of a Gun | Official Trailer

Son of a Gun

  • 2 stars
  • 2014
  • Australia
  • 1h 48min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Julius Avery
  • Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Ewan McGregor, Alicia Vikander
  • UK release: 30 January 2015

When JR (Thwaites) is locked up for a misdemeanour, he gets protected by notorious criminal Brendan (McGregor) but finds out that Brendan's protection has a price. Clichéd Aussie crime story, in which an actress as good as Vikander is reduced to mere eye-candy; a dull and derivative misfire.