Cape Fear, Limitless, Goldfinger: films on TV today

Robert De Niro stalks Nick Nolte, Bradley Cooper expands his mind, Sean Connery takes on Gert Fröbe: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY 
Cape Fear ★★★★
10.40pm-1.00am ITV 

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It goes without saying that the 1962 black-and-white original is superior, but who would deny Martin Scorsese the chance to remake a film noir-influenced thriller about an animalistic ex-con seeking revenge against the lawyer who put him away – except with Robert De Niro in the role previously filled by Robert Mitchum? De Niro is typically but brutally cartoonish as Max Cady, a pumped-up, tattooed sadist who stalks then terrorises the North Carolina home of defence attorney Nick Nolte’s family, including wife Jessica Lange and teenage daughter Juliette Lewis (in her breakout role). It’s an over-ripe thriller, full of thunder and lightning, but you sense the wink of an eye in Scorsese’s excesses, if not in De Niro’s, who seems to take a role even this preposterous seriously. We must believe he could sweet-talk Lewis while plotting vengeance, leading to a tense showdown on a houseboat that’s pure gothic schlock but great fun. Mitchum and 1962 co-star Gregory Peck both enjoy cineaste-aimed cameos. 


Limitless ★★★★
9.00-11.05pm E4

Bradley Cooper goes from zero to hero after popping an untested pill in Neil Burger’s witty sci-fi thriller. It gave a nice boost to Hangover star Cooper’s career – soon to be cemented by Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle – and began an acting partnership with Robert De Niro that grew into buddydom. Burger was soon after entrusted with the first instalment of the Divergent teen series, and is now at the helm of a TV spin-off from Limitless that continues the story from the end of the movie. Cooper will have a recurring role in it, too. 


Goldfinger ★★★★★
9.00-11.15pm ITV4 

Goldfinger is the yardstick by which all Bond films should be measured. It’s got the actor, the villain, the song, the henchman, the ass-kicking girl, the car, the gadgets and the one-liners. Sean Connery’s attempts to stop Gert Fröbe irradiating the gold in Fort Knox take in some unsurpassable imagery, both of its time (the laser assault on Bond’s privates) and timeless (Shirley Eaton’s gold-painted corpse). It’s endlessly entertaining.


War of the Worlds ★★★★
9.00-11.20pm 5★ 

Martian invaders come a-calling in Steven Spielberg’s epic take on the HG Wells classic. Tom Cruise’s divorced dock worker gives the first half of the movie the human element that is the director’s forte, while the second half displays the all-out action that worldwide audiences expect from their blockbusters. Okay, it’s a retro feast, and it’s hard to summon up any terror of a tripod alien adversary that’s been outwitted since the 1950s, but it’s a fine-looking movie, and, though it’s not great, that doesn’t mean it’s not good. 


Bronson ★★★
10.45pm-12.30am Film Four 

This fact-based biopic is blessed with an unbelievable storyline and a powerhouse performance from Tom Hardy, an actor whose real-life battles with himself lend his onscreen battles a raw, believable intensity. Bronson is the nom de guerre of Michael Peterson, who named himself after the Deathwish actor and sentenced himself to a life behind bars. It’s a gripping portrayal, helped by the immediacy of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s straight-to-camera scenes, and got Hardy noticed not only in Hollywood (The Dark Knight Rises), but also Australia, where he walked into the lead role in the Mad Max rebore, Fury Road.


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