BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
Die Hard ★★★★★
Everyone knows Brits make the best heavies and this is the film – and Alan Rickman the Brit – that established such belief. Bruce Willis is the star: New York cop flies to LA to spend Christmas with possibly estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and discovers on arrival that terrorists, led by Rickman, have taken over the skyscraper where she works and are holding her and others hostage. Willis, muscles rippling under increasingly filthy white vest, does the action man stuff well – evading capture while thwarting and picking off the terrorists – but the acting honours belong to Rickman. He plays a very bad guy, intelligent, suave, cruel, intellectually disdainful of his own associates and actually much more interesting than the Willis character. The business outside the skyscraper, involving local cops and a crass TV reporter, slows the action somewhat, but inside it thrilling stunts and explosive special effects – you wouldn’t believe the damage Willis does to this building – more than compensate. Altogether a highly enjoyable romp.
This marvellous sequel sees Emma Thompson’s dentally challenged nanny return to help another parent plagued with naughty children. A spoonful of sugar is not on the menu, though.
Spooks was never like this. Rowan Atkinson returns as the hapless British Intelligence agent who leaves everyone he encounters decidedly shaken and stirred.
In the first of the revved-up series, Paul Walker plays the cop trying to find out if Vin Diesel and his car-racing crew are behind a series of highway thefts. Your inner petrolhead (and we all have one) will love it.
Dark Horse ★★★
An entirely inspirational documentary about a Welsh barmaid who cajoled a working men’s club into helping buy and train race horse Dream Alliance. Next stop… the Grand National.