Thank you Australia, thank you. Son of a Gun follows the story of JR (Brenton Thwaites), a young Australian man locked up in prison for a small crime. When attempting to save his cell mate from being raped, JR meets Brendan (Ewan McGregor), a bank robber who offers him a chance to make a living once he's released from prison. We then cut six months ahead to JR's release, and so their plan begins, beginning with the jail break. A violent jail break at that. However, this is just the gateway into JR's life of crime as they, along with a crew of fellow criminals, attempt to rob six bars of gold.
Son of a Gun is a brutal and effective directorial debut from Julius Avery. Incase I haven't said it enough times, I love Australian films. I will give any Aussie film a go, no matter how terrible or derivative it looks. Son of a Gun is brilliant, thankfully. I have no idea how it's going to sit with audiences once it gets a wider release (if ever), as I presumed everybody would be all over The Rover (my second favourite film so far this year) and I was way off with that guess. Son of a Gun is dark, violent and full of humour. The amount of humour is really this film's most surprising aspect. The film can be darkly comedic, featuring not only a few moments that had me laughing out loud, despite their dark nature, but also some of the dialogue and banter between the characters. There's a scene towards the end that starts out serious, but thanks to the editing and the screenplay it somehow turns into a highly comedic scene.
While the film would still be entertaining without him, Ewan McGregor holds this film together. He is the core of this film, allowing it to flow fluently and full of pace. He's this film's strongest suit. His character is violent and unpredictable, but all while maintaining a sort of trusting appeal. Without him this film wouldn't have held together quite as well. It wouldn't have been a disaster, but I doubt I'd enjoy it as much without him. Brenton Thwaites, the main actor, hasn't had the greatest run this year, although I still haven't got around to seeing Oculus. His performance in this film is fine. It's not perfect, but it's good enough to create thrills, suspense and some serious action.
Now that I've mentioned the action, these scenes can be a lot of fun. The actual robbery itself is full of energy and adrenaline, feating in an action sequence that's one of the film's highlights. Again, this sequence also manages to incorporate a bit of humour here and there, particularly with the monkey mask. The action is never forced, prolonged or unnecessary, it's also there for as long as it needs to. The film isn't an action film, in case I was giving that impression. There are actually only a few moments of actual action in the entire film, but when they happen the payoff is incredible.
Son of a Gun doesn't get any credibility for originality. The plot is fairly conventional and by the numbers, and any real shocks don't come as that big a shock. For example, think up your favourite prison movie. Now, think up your favourite crime thriller (not in a Goodfellas sort of way, though. If that makes sense?). Son of a Gun is a morph of these two films. The opening prison sequences are brutal and full of atmosphere. They're humourless, but they're intense. The film then changes tones a little bit, making it seem like a completely different film. Overall it's still good. It's unoriginal, but it's handled well.
To sum up, Son of a Gun won't get any credibility for being original, but it's still a brilliant, brutal, intense, violent, entertaining, well acted (especially by Ewan McGregor), and effective directorial debut from Julius Avery.