The Grey, The Constant Gardener, Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home - best films on TV tonight

Our film picks are not for the faint of heart on Monday 16 June

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The Grey, The Constant Gardener, Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home - best films on TV tonight
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The Grey - 9pm, Film4

Liam Neeson is magnetic as the natural leader of a group of men who survive a plane crash in the Alaskan tundra. He has to be, not only for his companions but for the sake of this thriller, which badly needs some meat on its bones. Initially Neeson's hunter is suicidal after losing the woman he loves, but he resets to survival mode without much difficulty when a pack of wolves begins to stalk the men across the snow. This teases out each man's weakness, but the resultant stabs at psychological analysis are unconvincing. Fortunately, Neeson has the gravitas to evoke his character's inner strength and certainly doesn't need the many flashback scenes he is lumbered with. Director Joe Carnahan (Narc, The A-Team) is better at making a visceral impact, evident in the crash sequence and every time the wolves pounce. Consequently, this works more as a horror film than a character study, though Neeson's air of abandonment certainly cuts deep.


The Constant Gardener - 12:05am, ITV3

City of God director Fernando Meirelles brings his distinctive visual style to this moving political thriller, based on the novel by John le Carré. Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a Foreign Office diplomat in Kenya, whose activist wife Tessa (a compelling Rachel Weisz, winner of the film's only Oscar) is found murdered. The story is then played out in a series of flashbacks, as Justin - a normally passive man who puts more effort into nurturing his plants than his marriage - tries to understand his wife's motives and the events that led to her death. Justin's gardening works well as a powerful metaphor for the apathy of the rich West to the world's poor, as Meirelles examines life in some of Kenya's most impoverished communities. Drug company profiteering, conspiracy and murder are at the heart of this film, but it's also a touching love story that will break your heart.


Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home - 6:25pm, Film4

Star Trek fans may have grumbled, but this Leonard Nimoy-directed instalment is easily the most entertaining of the spin-offs from the cult TV series. After three impressive but rather po-faced adventures, the Enterprise regulars got the chance to let their hair (what was left of it) down a little for this hugely enjoyable trek. This time around, the crew has to travel back to 1980s San Francisco to free a couple of whales that can save the Earth from a destructive space probe. William Shatner gets to romance whale expert Catherine Hicks, although his comic double act with Nimoy is a lot more fun, and, while there is little in the way of traditional sci-fi spectacle, the crew clearly relishes the opportunity to poke fun at the idiosyncrasies of life in modern-day California.

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