• James McAvoy in Welcome to the Punch

By coincidence two British thrillers starring James McAvoy, Trance and Welcome to the Punch, are playing in Chicago this week. They’re both pulpy, far-fetched crime stories marked by shifting allegiances between characters and elaborate action sequences. They’re also highly stylish movies, displaying near-constant visual invention that allows one to forget (or better enjoy) the preposterousness of the narratives. I prefer Welcome to the Punch, though I could understand why someone might like Trance better. The latter film, directed by Danny Boyle in the anything-for-a-kick mode of his Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary, features a greater number of plot twists, a wider range of cinematic devices, and Rosario Dawson naked. Yet Punch strikes me as the more fully realized work; director Eran Creevy displays greater care in his stylistic choices and develops them into a recognizable perspective.