Son of a Gun 2014 Movie Scene Brenton Thwaites as JR holding a heavy machinegun with AK-47 behind him

Son of a Gun [2014]

Blending several potent motives, Son of a Gun establishes an engaging, albeit familiar narrative and offers a lot of thrills. Gotta hand it to the Aussies, they know how to make a good prison/crime flick and not just that. They inevitably nail that fucking lead and supporting role, this time the victims were veteran of many battles Ewan McGregor and rising star Brenton Thwaites. I should also mention Alicia Vikander who remained underutilized because of the simplicity of her character. Still, she made the most of it and gave even more flavor to the movie.

Although Son of a Gun is the first feature film for director Julius Avery you can’t notice it. And I’m not saying this just because he’s sporting an awesome beard. The pacing was perfect, with a very strong and intense beginning, intriguing middle, and grand finale at the end. It has that strange atmosphere where everything feels so real and intense although you still know it’s a movie. Charming and exciting, it will make the time fly. It’s nowhere near as gritty and depressing as Animal Factory. I would compare it to another great Aussie prison movie, The Hard Word or Animal Kingdom. 

Life sucks, and then you end up in prison. Then it’s your turn to suck. Meet JR, he’s 19 years old and about to be locked up with some very dangerous people. In prison, if you don’t have back, you will literally have no back, so JR decides to team up with one of Australia’s most notorious criminals Brendan Lynch. Of course, this is just the beginning of the story…

Son of a Gun works on different levels. It can be a pure thriller or a bit faster drama just before it turns to action. And this is all without any concepts at all, but one prevailing theme really made me think. The relationship between JR and Brendan is a relationship of a student and a mentor, only it isn’t really. We were lucky that Ewan and Brenton did such a great job showing us the dynamics of the relationship. On top of all of this, we have the whole heist thing. Now, I think this would be a much tighter movie if they focused on only one thing but what can you do.

I miss movies like this. Relatively big productions with great actors and engaging plots. Sometimes you don’t want to take chances by watching some “risky” unknown movie. Sometimes you want exactly what Son of a Gun offers and that’s pure crime entertainment. Not to mention Ewan McGregor in a completely different role of a hardened criminal. And you know I have a soft spot for Alicia.

Finally, I just want to say that the movie is actually based on the director’s real-life experiences. You can read more about this in this Moveable Fest interview with director Julius Avery. The rest of the story is based on the life of Brenden Abbott, a notorious Australian criminal and his protage Brendan Berichon. And just know that it happens more often than you think: Only after you have seen the movie.

Director: Julius Avery

Writers: Julius Avery, John Collee

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites, Damon Herriman, Alicia Vikander, Tom Budge

Fun Facts: Features a nod to the Thief [1981]


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