While in prison young JR (Thwaites) finds himself caught up with one of Australia’s most infamous criminals Brendan (Ewan McGregor) who offers to protection to the first-time offender. Once released however, he finds himself falling deeper and deeper into his protector’s criminal organisation and is offered a place in a group planning to complete a gold heist.
It would be easy to write down the basic plot on a napkin in minutes, so strict is it at adhering to genre staples and predictable pacing. In the same way that White House Down felt like a 1990s action film, Son of a Gun is reminiscent of the 1970s heist pictures. There is something a little jarring but predictable about the whole affair.
First-time director Avery keeps the pacing tight and fraught, and an accomplished turn by McGregor keeps the narrative on the right side of tense. Despite the nods to older films, there is everything you would expect from a modern day heist, and it does everything in a good if not necessarily interesting or memorable way.
The opening involves a dark and interesting way, but quickly falls apart on the outside as Avery and co. run every clichÃ© in the book. Thwaites is solid in an underdeveloped role, while the excellent Alicia Vikander is completely wasted in the role of Russian stripper archetype number one.
The big questions at the end of the film are not how JR ended up in such a messy, contrived plot, but rather how the actor Ewan McGregor found himself involved in such a mediocre film.