Son of a Gun (2014)

Son of a Gun (2014)
  • Time: 108 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Drama
  • Director: Julius Avery
  • Cast: Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites, Alicia Vikander


Locked up for a minor crime, 19 year old JR quickly learns the harsh realities of prison life. Protection, if you can get it, is paramount. JR soon finds himself under the watchful eye of Australia’s most notorious criminal, Brendan Lynch. But protection comes at a price. Lynch and his crew have plans for their young protegee. Upon release, JR must help secure Lynch’s freedom, staging a daring prison break. As a reward, he’s invited to join the crew as they plan a gold heist that promises to deliver millions. However, as things start to go wrong, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues. JR finds himself unsure of whom he can trust and on a collision course with his former mentor.


  • Alicia Vikander, the young Swedish actress, has been one to watch since her impressive performances in Pure and A Royal Affair. In the former, she played a troubled teen who engages in a relationship with a married conductor; in the latter, the young queen Caroline Mathilde torn between duty and passion. Vikander is a beauty – the camera loves her – but she also possesses an intensity and toughness that nicely oppose the vulnerability of her looks.

    Vikander is probably in no more than 30 minutes of Son of a Gun’s almost two-hour duration but she nearly upends the movie, finding nuance in the deeply stereotypical role of the hard-as-nails but kindhearted mobster’s concubine Tasha. Before she shows up in the film’s second act, let’s rewind to the beginning. Nineteen-year-old JR (Brenton Thwaites) has been thrown into jail for reasons left unexplained. He’s fresh meat for the hardened inmates, some of whom bully and nearly rape him before fellow jailbird Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor) takes him under his protection.

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  • I don’t know how a hero of a movie could be so dumb. Like really dumb. But then again if he wasn’t so dumb, the events that cause main plot of this movie wouldn’t have happened. Julius Avery’s crime thriller is certainly a ride for the audience, but at moments I feel like he dropped the ball.

    JR (Brendan Thwaites) is a young crook who is adjusting to his first stint in prison. Eager to prove he is not a weakling, he gets in fights with other inmates and this brings him to the attention of Brendan (Ewan McGregor), a fierce armed robber. Brendan takes JR under his wing and once JR is out of prison, Brendan gets him to do various jobs for him.

    The plot of this movie is a little all over the place. Instead of just sticking to one particular part of the criminal life, the movie jumps from a movie about prison life, mobsters and heists. While many of these sequences work well as their own small plots, smashing them together to form a larger narrative doesn’t really work. The themes of this movie are also a little too obvious. Throughout the film, games of chess are played by characters who want to prove how smart they are. But the film also labours the point that each character represents a type of chess piece.

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  • I have followed this director’s work for some time. Julius Avery has consistent themes to his work, the search for a father figure, bullying and the search for honesty in relationships. This film combines all three and puts them in a heist movie genre. It was a tough film, uncompromising and it made the lead actors stretch for every piece of screen real estate in the film. The scenes of Perth, Australia were utterly realistic. it is a dump of a city with a crass veneer, like a mangy dog with a gold tooth.

    The robbery scenes were very well done. The payback scene was totally unexpected and the outcome unpredictable. Without giving things away, in most heist movies the heroes die or get ripped off, the cops always win in the end. This is not like most heist movies. The film was very uncompromising in its prison scenes, rape, murder, ultra-violence, all the nastiness of life inside a jail for long term prisoners with the poor few with short sentences who end up there nonetheless.

    This movie spoke to me in a way I’ve not experienced in many years of going to the movies. I recommend everyone looking for honest entertainment and value for money, capped by an excellent story and superb acting should see it. But buy the big popcorn, otherwise you will eat your fingernails.

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