REVIEW: Son of a Gun

7 02 2016

Son of a GunSon of a Gun” is a film about…

Well, actually, I’m not sure I can finish that sentence honestly. Julius Avery’s film is not really “about” anything. It’s yet another installment in a type of cinema that I call “things happening to people.” These types of movies are not automatically or categorically bad, but they are the cinematic equivalent of the simple sentence. They have the bare minimum necessary to get by and cohere. Any complexity beyond that is absent.

I could imagine a film where the journey of Brenton Thwaites’ JR is compelling like “A Prophet” or “Starred Up.” Both feature young men who enter prison with little to no affiliation or grounding and carve out a unique place in its social infrastructure. JR falls in with Ewan McGregor’s Brendan Lynch and quickly gets in far over his head, particularly once he exits the facility and faces expectations of continuing his role in their criminal enterprises.

But “Son of a Gun” mostly just watches as JR moves from scene to scene like the alphabet proceeds from A to Z. Avery adds none of the features – strong characterization, thematic heft or virtuosic artistry – that can elevate a “things happening to people” movie. The film does have some nice chemistry between Thwaites and Alicia Vikander’s Tasha, a path for his redemption. But otherwise, it’s less watchable and more just passable. B- 2stars