James McAvoy On Welcome To The Punch

'It's rip-roaring entertainment'

Eran 'Shifty' Creevy's intriguing new London-based thriller Welcome To The Punch is careering towards the big screen like the kind of souped-up Capri the Professionals used to hoon around in. The hair isn't as permed nor the trousers as tight these days, but, judging by Empire's visit to the film's set, the crims still have ambitions that will test the most hardened copper.

Punch, though, is a different beast to The Sweeney and co. "Whenever we came across a line that sounds a bit geezer-ish or gangster-ish we just got rid of it," stresses Creevy's co-lead and the film's rogue gangster, Mark Strong.

"The script didn't feel like it had the humility and humbleness of a British film," adds James McAvoy, troubled 'tec Max Lewinsky in the film. "Don't get me wrong - I love British film and I love gritty, British drama. But we're not trying to go, 'This is the real world.' We're going, 'Here's a fuckin' rip-roaring, really emotionally powerful piece of entertainment,' you know?"

Creevy describes the conflicted Lewinsky as "damaged goods", a man yearning for a quite life who's reluctantly sucked back into a criminal conspiracy and forced to work with old nemesis Mark Strong.

"He's suppressing a lot of pain," the director expands. "James is prepared to play him as a bit of a dick. A lot of actors would say, 'I can't be seen doing this!' James is like, 'I'll do that. I want him to be arrogant and pig-headed and bitter.'"

Welcome To The Punch is out on March 15, 2013. Check out Empire's November issue, on newstands tomorrow, for more on the thriller.