Son of a Gun
Son of a Gun depicts an Australia that isn’t only beaches and sunshine, but muddy, sticky and ultimately bloody. The crime thriller focuses on JR, who is imprisoned at the age of 18 and trying to find his way in life. For that to happen, however, he has to survive his half-year in jail.
JR (Brenton Thwaites) has a past the audience doesn’t know about. What matters is the daunting present: a few scenes are sufficient to convey the brutality that the brave, but naïve, JR faces in jail, and establish a sombre tone that will linger until tensions erupt in the end. Amidst his merciless fellow prisoners, he soon finds himself in need of protection. It is notorious criminal and fellow prisoner Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor) who takes JR under his wing.
Rules in prison are harsh, though, and he has to pay the price for his mentor’s attention, once he is released. Before he knows it he is caught up, not only in staging Lynch’s prison break, but in the planning of his biggest coup yet: the heist of one of Australia’s gold mines promising enough money to start a new life. Torn between loyalty for his mentor and his forbidden attraction to Tasha (Alicia Vikander), the plot unfolds into dramatic action.
In this gritty thriller, Ewan McGregor convincingly embodies the charismatic bad guy for whom JR becomes more than just the sacrificial lamb – the son he never had. McGregor and Thwaites’ excellent performances succeed in conveying the interdependence of the two protagonists and their frequent, often subtle, power games. By juxtaposing the middle-aged, incurable gangster Lynch with his young and confused but idealistic protégé, the thriller manages to incorporate coming-of-age-elements, which ultimately enrich the story. Despite action-laden car chases and dramatic scenes, however, the plot can’t get around a few clichés.
With Lynch being the closest to a father figure JR has, he isn’t far from becoming the son of a gun himself. Starting from the premise that at best people learn from their mentors and at worst they repeat their mistakes, the film tries to explore the inner turmoil of young people who are influenced by the wrong people and ultimately succeed.
Despite some shortcomings in the plot, following JR’s stony journey into adulthood makes for a compelling watch. Director Julius Avery’s feature film debut is well-made. It is bloody, brutal, and bold, but never predictable.
Son of a Gun is released nationwide on 30th January 2014.
Watch the trailer for Son of a Gun here: