Summary: While locked up for a minor offence, 19-yr-old JR (Thwaites) becomes apprentice to the enigmatic Brendan Lynch (McGregor), a calculating crime boss with connections both inside and out. After helping Lynch and his crew orchestrate a daring prison escape, JR is invited to join in on their next job – a high stakes heist that promises to deliver millions.
But as they plan the heist, JR begins to suspect he is being played and soon finds himself on a collision course with his mentor in a very dangerous game.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 16th October, 2014
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Director: Julius Avery
Screenwriter: Julius Avery, John Collee
Cast: Eddie Baroo (Merv), Tom Budge (Josh), Nash Edgerton (Chris), Damon Herriman (Private Wilson), Sam Hutchin (Dave), Marko Jovanovic (Ken), Jacek Koman (Sam), Ivan Lightbody (Mitch), Ewan McGregor (Brendan), Matt Nable (Sterlo), Soa Palelei (Thomy), Brenton Thwaites (JR), Alicia Vikander (Tasha)
Runtime: 109 mins
Greg King: You can check out Greg’s Son Of A Gun review on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #101
The heat is really on Australian films at the moment. Films this year that were supposed to be big hits – These Final Hours, The Rover and Felony – have all had dismal returns at the box office, and now comes Son of A Gun a film that has its producers (and the whole Australian film industry) watching with baited breath to see whether the inclusion of Scottish actor Ewan McGregor on the bill will be enough to make Australian audiences actually want to go and see the film in the cinemas.
Of course as Predestination and The Rover found out earlier this year the inclusion of international stars like Robert Pattinson and Ethan Hawke on the cast list doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the film is going to make an impact at the Box Office either. But what the producers of Son Of A Gun will be hoping is that the fact that Son Of A Gun is back in that gritty crime drama genre that has seen films such as Animal Kingdom become a hit in the past.
From first-time director Julius Avery, who has built a sturdy short film career, Son Of A Gun sees young small-time criminal JR (Brenton Thwaites) suddenly thrust into the rigours of a tough prison environment. While the brash young crim feels that he has what it takes to survive he suddenly finds himself needing the help of seasoned notorious armed robber Brendan (Ewan McGregor) who takes the young man under his wing and includes him in his plans for a violent prison breakout and resulting major heist at a Western Australian gold mine.
On the outside though JR and Brendan don’t find things to run as smoothly as they hoped. Brendan says that he is a crim-of-his-word although his honour is tested when they become involved with a rich mobster named Sam (Jacek Koman) who is money hungry and has no time for JR… especially when he sets his sights on one of Sam’s girls an immigrant named Tasha (Alicia Vikander).
But of course it takes more than some big names and a well believed in genre for a film to work and sadly it is in other areas where Son Of A Gun is largely let down. Early on things seem promising for Son Of A Gun it has all the grit and intensity off prison/crime films like Everynight, Everynight and Animal Kingdom while the actual prison breakout and some of the car chases almost lift this film into the action film genre, but this film is dangerously let down by some of the film’s slower moments.
At times the film seems like it wants to touch on the gangster romance element that made Two Hands so popular but the relationship here never wins the audience over the same way that the Heath Ledger/Rose Byrne chemistry did in the Aussie classic while the films last quarter is a massive let down. After the gold mine heist the film seems to lose its way, so badly that the ending feels like something you would have expected to see in a trashy American film like Wild Things. And of course if you’ve been a loyal audience member and kept a track of all the crumbs and sign posts that Avery has left so blatantly throughout the film you may get a really early sense of exactly what the big suspenseful moment is going to be during the finale as well.
The one thing that does lift Son Of A Gun up though, aside from the first brilliant twenty minutes, are the cast. Ewan McGregor does show that he is a class above everybody else in the film with a strong character performance that almost seems him become the rough-and-ready Brendan. He is well supported by young gun on the rise Brenton Thwaites whose tough boy image is very different to the pretty boy he recently played in The Giver.
The rest of the cast however are not quite so lucky. Alicia Vikander is given very little to work with at all. Her character motivation is weak and she quickly becomes a cliché as does many of the other ‘baddies’ in the film, a shame when you realise that actors such as Jacek Koman are capable of pulling off some really dramatic roles when they are called to. The big crime though is the treatment of Vikander whose role is so weak you can only wonder why she bothered making the trip out to Australia to make the film in the first place. Her performance is good, but the script lets her down.
Son Of A Gun is a film that seems like it is desperate to make the same grade as classic Australian crime films like The Boys, but sadly the films weak last quarter really drags it down and leaves a bad taste in the audience’s mouth. Worse is the fact that the opening of the film is so good that you are left wondering how the same screenwriter could be responsible for such a letdown of a finale. Son Of A Gun may briefly breathe life back into the Australia film industry but it is certainly not the saviour that everybody was hoping for.
Other Subculture Entertainment Reviews of ‘Son Of A Gun′: For our full Son Of A Gun review please check The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Ep #101 . Dave’s Son Of A Gun review can also be viewed on The Book The Film The T-Shirt
This week on The Good The Bad The Ugly Film Show Dave, Greg and Nick take a look at new release films ‘Son Of A Gun’, ”John Doe: Vigilante,’ ‘Force Majeure,’ ‘A Walk Among The Tombstones,’ ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ and ‘Tammy′ . This episode also contains an interview with Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Rowan Joffe, Melissa McCarthy, Ruben Ostland and Benny from The Axis Of Awesome.
The boys also give you a chance to win double passes to see Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike’s new movie Hector And The Search For Happiness so make sure you listen to see how they could be yours.
To listen to the show you can download it for free from our Podcast Channel – Listen/Download here.
SON OF A GUN is the debut feature of award-winning Australian director Julius Avery (Jerrycan). A smart edge-of-your-seat heist thriller starring Ewan McGregor (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Impossible), and talented newcomer Brenton Thwaites (The Giver, Maleficent), SON OF A GUN will screen in Official Competition at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. This also marks the film’s International Premiere.
Of his film screening at the festival, Avery said, “it is such a proud and exciting moment for everyone involved in SON OF A GUN to be in official competition at a festival as historic and respected as the BFI London Film Festival.”
SON OF A GUN tells the story of a young man who is drawn into the lawless world of a notorious criminal. Serving six months for a minor offence, 19-year-old JR (Thwaites) quickly learns the harsh realities of prison life. After a chance encounter, he finds himself under the watchful eye of the enigmatic Brendan Lynch (McGregor), a calculating crime boss with extensive connections both inside and out. In exchange for protection, JR becomes apprentice to Lynch, and upon release he must orchestrate Lynch’s daring prison escape.
Rewarded for his involvement and with a taste for the high life, JR joins the crew on their next job – a high stakes heist that promises to deliver millions. As he gets sucked deeper into Lynch’s criminal underworld, a tangled, co-dependent relationship develops. While planning the heist, he begins to suspect he is being played. Unsure of whom to trust, JR soon finds himself on a collision course with his mentor in a very dangerous game.
Shot in Perth, Melbourne and Kalgoorlie, SON OF A GUN also stars Alicia Vikander, Matt Nable, Damon Herriman, Tom Budge, Nash Edgerton and Jacek Koman. This taught psychological thriller is Avery’s debut feature. His short film Jerrycan won a Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
The 58th BFI London Film Festival runs from October 8-19, 2014.
Entertainment One Australia will release SON OF A GUN in cinemas nationally on October 16, 2014.
Southern Light Alliance is the new production venture from acclaimed producer Timothy White (TWO HANDS, THE BOYS ARE BACK) of Southern Light Films and former film publicity and marketing specialist Anna Vincent.
The partnership was formed earlier this year and aims to develop Australian projects and international co-productions. SLA is based at the Adelaide Studios, South Australia, where Vincent resides. White will continue producing though his own company, Southern Light Films, which is based in Sydney and currently post-producing SON OF A GUN starring Ewan McGregor.
The first coup for SLA is their successful bid for the rights to the novel, MICE by British author Gordon Reece, partnering with Julie Ryan (RED DOG, TEN CANOES) of Cyan Films. Reece’s debut thriller has received worldwide acclaim and has been published in 17 countries and released in 12 languages.
“Tim White and I have worked together on several projects and saw a real benefit with setting up a production arm in South Australia,” said Vincent. “When Julie Ryan brought MICE to our attention we saw a great story with international appeal and were excited to outbid a European company to secure the rights.”
Author Gordon Reece said, “I’m thrilled MICE is in the hands of such a talented group of people – they’ve been behind some brilliant Australian movies and I’m sure they’re going to do an amazing job!”
As well as the UNTITLED PROJECT, based on the novel MICE, Southern Light Alliance are developing other projects. Tim White brings the Irish co-production PURSUIT to the partnership, and Anna Vincent brings Jane Austen adaptation EM which she has developed with Sydney-based writer/producer Matthew Dabner.