Welcome to the Punch

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Welcome to the Punch Movie Poster Image
Stylish English cop flick has violence, language.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid the violence and vengeance, there's a message about working together: Two old enemies put aside their feelings for each other in order to fight a greater evil.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is an honest police detective in a corrupt system, yet he's violent, unstable, and out for revenge. But he does ultimately learn forgiveness.


Lots of police-type violence, with guns and shooting, explosions, some blood, and various dead bodies, plus fighting and punching. The main character is shot in the leg, which causes him great pain; from time to time he's forced to drain it of excess liquid with a hypodermic needle. A key character goes into cardiac arrest in a hospital. A character holds a gun to an old lady's head (she's unhurt).


The main character, a policeman, tries to kiss his female partner; she rebuffs him.


Language is strong, with multiple uses of "f--k" in various permutations. Other words include "s--t," "balls," "prick," "ass," "Christ," and "Jesus" (both as exclamations).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character is seen smoking a cigarette in one scene.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that English crime thriller Welcome to the Punch (the title refers to a location where the final showdown takes place) has plenty of cops-and-robbers-style violence, with guns, shooting, fighting, punching, dead bodies, explosions, and some blood. The main character is shot in the knee during the opening scene, and the wound causes him great pain and trouble throughout the film. Language is strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," plus "s--t" and more. There's a minor, near-kiss scene, and the main character smokes one cigarette. In an interesting twist, the main character teams up with his enemy to fight a greater evil, eventually learning forgiveness. But there's still an awful lot of violence and vengeance here as well.

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What's the story?

Hot on the trail of master criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong), police detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is shot in the knee and lets his quarry go. Years later, he gets another chance when Sternwood's son is caught in the middle of some dirty dealings; the son can be used as bait to lure Sternwood out of hiding. Unfortunately, it turns out that this incident is just a tiny part of a huge web of police corruption and conspiracy, involving an upcoming election and the issue of gun control. Lewinsky realizes that his only chance to solve the entire puzzle is to team up with his old nemesis.

Is it any good?

Writer/director Eran Creevy seems to have put a great deal of work into this mystery story, doling out clues at certain spots and piecing it all together at the climax. But what really registers in WELCOME TO THE PUNCH is the chase scenes and the high intensity with which it all plays out. Even a typical conversation, a simple exchange of information, occurs in places like a murder scene at night.

McAvoy never seems to let his character rest; he simply quivers and hungers for vengeance and retribution. Happily, the usually over-the-top Strong is refreshingly subtle here, and he ties together some interesting character relationships, especially between the two enemies. Indeed, the entire cast of British character actors is effective in this movie. Where it falls short is in its pacing. It's a bit too quick and jumbled, and it can make the movie seem fairly lightweight. But even for a lightweight entertainment, Welcome to the Punch still isn't bad.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Welcome to the Punch's violence. Is it necessary to tell a story like this with so much shooting and killing? What's the overall impact?

  • What does the main character learn over the course of the movie? Could you have forgiven your enemy? What does it mean to forgive?

  • Many of the characters argue over whether police in England should carry guns. Would carrying guns make them safer, or would it result in more violence?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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