Sunday, February 8, 2015

Son of a Gun

We went in semi-blind to this Austalian caper flick, Son of a Gun, and the opening moments were somewhat ominous. Young JR (Brenton Thwaites, Oculus, Maleficent) is being incarcerated, and going through the various humiliating rituals for his six month stint (which should be three with time off for good behavior). He quickly falls afoul of a jail gang that wants to rape him, against the advice of long timer Brendan (Ewan McGregor), and is rescued from a brutalization by Brendan and his gang.

Such rescue comes at a price, however, and before you know it JR has wandered into an extended edition of Grand Theft Auto.

The point, however, is that Son of a Gun is a caper flick, which isn't obvious from any of the material I saw. Caper flicks are hard. In America, it's pretty much relegated to magic, whether figuratively (as in Ocean's 11, 12 and 13) or literally (as in Now You See Me). Your anti-heroes are pretty much straight-up heroic. Maybe not perfect, but not really true anti-heroes by a long shot.

This flick, then is kind of a breath of fresh air. It's gritty without wallowing in squalor. It has its dark side, but doesn't let that get in the way of the fun, and even features a romance you want to root for. McGregor's Brendan is not completely without honor, but he's still a pretty bad dude.

It's a nice balance. It doesn't go too far into the goofy. It does encourage you to overlook things, as these films almost invariably must, being about thieves, but it doesn't insult your intelligence in doing so.

Likable performances from McGregor and Thwaites, Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina) as The Skirt, Jacek Komen (Defiance, Children of Men) as The Boss, and Damon Herriman (J. Edgar) as The Weasel.

We were really happy to have caught this: It didn't get a big release and doesn't even appear on Box Office Mojo at the moment.

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