Star Trek II, The Departed, Twelve Monkeys – best films on TV tonight

You don't need weekend plans when you have our top film picks tonight Friday 13 June

Star Trek II: the Wrath of Khan – 6:50pm, Film4


This big-screen sequel to the 1967 TV episode Space Seed is truer in spirit to the beloved space opera than the first feature and a firm favourite with some fans. Here, genetic superman Ricardo Montalban wreaks vengeance against theEnterprise crew for sending him to a planetary wasteland. Nicholas Meyer – who also directed Star Trek VI – puts the stress on the narrative values that made the original series so compelling and vibrantly weaves the thematic motifs of life, loss and adventure together as he expertly continues the saga. Leonard Nimoy has rarely been so moving.

The Departed – 9pm, More4

After a run of solid, adventurous but ultimately underwhelming efforts (Gangs of New YorkThe Aviator), director Martin Scorsese returned to more familiar form with a superior, Boston-set cops-and-gangsters story based on the Hong Kong crime drama Infernal Affairs, and won the long-awaited best director Oscar for his trouble. Rookie cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is assigned to go deep undercover to help catch local Mafia godfather Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Meanwhile, Costello has groomed Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) since puberty to be his spy on the force. The complex script (fluently adapted by William Monahan) rotates around these two moles, who orbit each other like twin suns for most of the movie, but only meet in the third act. It all makes for extremely watchable entertainment. The leads are luminous (especially Nicholson, doing his best work in years here), but supporting players Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin and Ray Winstone all steal scenes with glee.

Twelve Monkeys – 11:05pm, BBC2

Inspired by Chris Marker’s acclaimed 1962 short film La Jetée, this labyrinthine sci-fi thriller was penned by the co-writer of Blade Runner, David Webb Peoples, and his wife, Janet. Yet it’s very much the work of Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam, who imposes his own pseudo-poetic vision onto a world that is doomed to viral annihilation unless time traveller Bruce Willis can prevent the disaster. Although it was Brad Pitt who landed an Oscar nomination for his twitchy performance as the leader of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, it is Willis’s anguished introvert who holds this gripping, hauntingly atmospheric film together.


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