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Big Screen: Welcome To The Punch Panel

Mark Strong talks kicking McAvoy's arse

Welcome To The Punch panel at Big Screen

For those not in the know, Welcome To The Punch is a slick crime thriller starring James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough and Daniel Mays, currently shooting over in Canary Wharf with directing duties undertaken by Shifty's Eran Creevy.

With a cast and director like that, it's no great surprise that we were pretty damn chuffed to have some of them along to Big Screen this weekend, including perennial Empire favourite Mark Strong.

The plot of the film centres around criminal mastermind Mark Strong squaring off with policeperson James McAvoy, with heists, gunfights and car chases kicking off every other scene – or so it sounds...

“I just stepped off set four hours ago, finishing the night shoot of the opening heist sequence in a skyscraper,” says Creevy. “James McAvoy is in hot pursuit of Strong and his crew right now. Actually, they’ve been closing down Canary Wharf for us – plus, we shot a sequence here in the Indigo2 as well, just up there…”

“You see, the movie has political undertones to a degree, and there’s a sequence where there are politicians, all shot here in the O2… It’s not just an actioner here.”

So Empire editor Mark Dinning, host of the Q&A, asked what we were all thinking… are we talking a British Heat here? Mark, are you the De Niro character?

“I wish!” said Strong. “It has kick-ass sequences, stuff I haven’t seen in London before. It doesn't glorify it though; it enjoys a juxtaposition between arthouse examination and all-out action.”

“It really does have some great action sequences, mind. A few days after the movie started shooting, I really realised I was in an action movie as I was picking up an Uzi, sliding on the floor. I mean, I’ve beaten up twelve-year-old girls [in Kick-Ass], but this is different. Look forward to a massive final gun battle around the docks, by the way…”

“After Shifty, my first film,” Creevy added, “I want to do a French Connection, or a Heat, an Infernal Affairs, Hard Boiled-style film, but set in London. I wanted it to be aspirational, make London slick – make it all glass chrome, skyscrapers, and nuanced performances.”

“Basically, London is one of the sexiest cities in the world and it’s not shown like that in films properly, so we’re trying to do our best to show that.”

We'll be able to see whether they've pulled it off come sometime 2012. You know, with Welcome To The Punch coming out then and all...