Blu-ray Review: Son of a Gun

By , Contributor
Australian import Son of a Gun comes to Blu-ray via Lionsgate. Its greatest asset is the presence of Ewan McGregor and fans of the actor will want to check it out. McGregor stars as jailbird Brendan Lynch, serving time for armed robbery. Arguably the real lead character, however, is JR (Brenton Thwaites). JR is barely an adult and a real newbie to hardcore penitentiaries. He makes the acquaintance of some tough heavyweights when he tries standing up for his weaker cell mate, soon striking up a tentative alliance with the hardened prison vet Brendan.

Both have a softer, intellectual side as it turns out, with JR and Brendan being chess enthusiasts. Though not particularly subtle, the strategic game of chess serves as a metaphor for the ways in which JR and Brendan conduct themselves once they’re returned to civilian life. The opening act is fairly gripping, with lots of prison violence creating a sense of true unease as JR tries to find his place in the pecking order. It’s no spoiler to mention that a jailbreak sequence leads to Brendan and his hand-picked (thought not entirely trustworthy, as it turns out) team’s liberation. It’s a firecracker of an action sequence, but soon after writer-director Julius Avery settles into relatively well-trodden “heist movie” mode.

What certainly does qualify as ‘spoiler territory’ is how Brendan’s big robbery of solid gold bars, millions of dollars worth, plays out. Not all is as it seems between Brendan and his surrogate son JR, nor with JR’s love interest Tasha (Alicia Vikander). I wouldn’t say the problem is so much a lack of suspense as a lack of credibility. A few out of the blue plot twists are a bit hard to swallow, especially near the film’s end. The humorless tone doesn’t help as Son of a Gun rapidly devolves into typical action thriller ordinariness.

Son of a Gun, however marginal in terms of storytelling, at least offers a solid high definition audio/visual experience. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray boasts a strong, detail transfer of Nigel Bluck’s cinematography. While not a particularly visually inventive movie, the transfer allows for the gritty prison violence and gunplay to be viewed in visceral detail. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix is similarly top notch. Though far from the sonic bonanzas offered by higher budget productions, Son of a Gun sounds great.

Though light on features, there Blu-ray does feature an audio commentary track by writer-director Julius Avery. “Partners in Crime” (12 minutes) is a basic behind-the-scenes featurette. The Blu-ray package also includes a downloadable digital copy.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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