The Sweeney, Bridget Jones’s Diary, King Kong: films on TV today

Cop Ray Winstone acts like a criminal, Renée Zellweger tries to act like a grown-up, Jack Black meets the king of Skull Island: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

The Sweeney ★★
PREMIERE 9.00-11.15pm C4


Those old enough to remember ITV’s pre-PC 1970s cop show — which was also spun off into two fondly recalled movies — may find this 2012 reboot a travesty. But the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad, in whose crime-busting remit the series was rooted, is still at large in London. And if anyone was going to fill the unfillable shoes of John Thaw’s DI Jack Regan, it was the unreconstructed Ray Winstone. Under the hooligan-chic aegis of writer/director Nick Love (The Football Factory), the Squad is suspended after a botched raid, so Regan goes rogue with likeably “street” sidekick Ben “Plan B” Drew to crack the case. Although glossily contemporary, it’s close to finding the spirit of the show in a checklist of shooters, squealing tyres, dockside and warehouse locations, even the catchphrase “You’re nicked!”. Steven Mackintosh, Damien Lewis and Paul Anderson (Peaky Blinders) bring class, but pity DC Hayley Atwell as this manor is no place for a woman.

Bridget Jones’s Diary ★★★★
9.20-11.10pm ITV 

Renée Zellweger made big pants something to be proud of in this seam-splitting adaptation of Helen Fielding’s bestselling book. Director Sharon Maguire keeps us rooting for dippy Bridget whatever disasters befall her, and balances rival suitors Colin Firth and Hugh Grant’s inadequacies perfectly; their fisticuffs fight is a hilarious example of ineffectual male aggression. The lazy sequel never matched this first outing.

King Kong ★★★★
5.45-9.20pm ITV2 

This movie was a labour of love for director Peter Jackson, who claims to have started it when he was 12 years old with a little puppet and a cardboard model of the Empire State Building. It’s both a remake and homage but also succeeds on its own terms. Naomi Watts takes on the Ann Darrow role made famous by Fay Wray, and finds herself in the clutches of a CGI Kong; and Jackson ups the empathy levels between the pair to heighten what follows in New York. Jack Black does well with a difficult role, as his Carl Denham should really be Darrow’s love interest – but here, the competition’s too strong. 

Armageddon ★★★
9.00-11.25pm BBC3 

When director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer get together – The Rock, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys and Armageddon – you know you’re in for a thunderous piece of cinema. Here, Bruce Willis is called upon to destroy an asteroid “the size of Texas” that’s heading for Earth (what would the chances be of it actually landing on Texas, too, like the last piece of a State-sized jigsaw?). It’s possible to confuse the movie with Deep Impact, as small human stories alternate with the main disaster thread, but it won’t really matter, so long as you can ignore the platitudes and concentrate on the spectacle. 

Apocalypse Now ★★★★★
11.00pm-1.55am ITV4 


Francis Ford Coppola’s riveting Vietnam War drama was a monster of overindulgence in its making (see the documentary Hearts of Darkness: a Fllm-Maker’s Apocalypse for proof) and, initially, a disappointment at the box office, but has since become a landmark of cinema. Coppola and John Milius’s screenplay updates Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, and sees Martin Sheen’s US Army captain sent to assassinate Marlon Brando’s rogue colonel deep in the jungle. Somehow, out of the chaos of the production, a masterpiece was born. Watch it.