It took half the movie until it dawned on me Son of a Gun is just a gritty, Aussie update on Oliver Twist. Brenton Thwaites plays JR, a lost teenager, abandoned by his parents and institutionalised, which leads him to meet Brendan Lynch (Ewan McGregor), who offers him a form of protection in exchange for a life of crime. The only person who offers
Oliver JR any real comfort is Tasha (the now omnipresent Alicia Vikander) who is being held in an abusive relationship. I’ve not seen anyone else citing these parallels, but surely there’s something there? Whether or not this was all intentional, at least it gives the illusion that there’s a bit more to it.
The Dickensian similarities end here as Son of a Gun is actually a generic, pulpy mishmash of prison drama, heist movie and violent thriller. Ewan McGregor thankfully sticks to his native accent and is fairly convincing as a hard nut who leads JR astray. A pulsating prison break is the film’s highlight but there’s little real tension as plausibility is stretched as the film trudges on. It’s fairly watchable and has the odd thrill but spills into increasingly silly plotting which undoes the good work setting up the brawny prison drama early on. “Please sir, can I have some more”, that will do for now, thanks.
Review by David Rank
Son of a Gun is out on 30th January in the UK.. Running time 108 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).