The Fast and the Furious, Awakenings, The Thing from Another World: films on TV today

Vin Diesel puts his foot down, Robert De Niro wakes up, Kenneth Tobey finds an alien in the ice: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

The Fast and the Furious ★★★★
9.00-11.05pm ITV2 


With the eighth instalment in the $3.9 billion tyre-squealing franchise revving up for 2017, the 2001 original may seem quaint by comparison. Parochial, too, as it’s set strictly in Los Angeles, where the late Paul Walker’s undercover cop is tasked with breaking up a car-theft ring that’s linked to the local illegal street-racing scene, led by wedge-shaped baritone Vin Diesel. Petrolheads can gawp at the 1993 Mazda RX-7 and 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse GTX (I looked those up), while Michelle Rodriguez, no slouch at the wheel, counters the Top Gear testosterone. It’s both fast and furious – and preposterous – but its set-piece stunts are destructively real. They get bigger as the series unfolds, but not necessarily better. 

Awakenings ★★★★
4.30-6.55pm Movie Mix 

Robin Williams plays it straight as a neurologist who manages to rouse coma patients after decades in stasis, in Penny Marshall’s Oscar-nominated take on Dr Oliver Sacks’s bestselling book about his use of L-Dopa to treat post-encephalitic patients. Robert De Niro is the main focus among the patients, and his nuanced performance and Marshall’s intelligent direction stop a sure-fire tearjerker turning into mush.    

The Thing from Another World ★★★★
1.00-2.40am Movies4Men 

The 1938 novella Who Goes There? by influential writer and editor John W Campbell Jr (writing as Don A Stuart) was the source for this atmospheric sci-fi tale from Christian Nyby. The tale of a bloodthirsty indestructible alien let loose in the arctic wastes, it opened the door for a wave of Hollywood Cold War stories, and inspired John Carpenter’s more shocking 1982 The Thing. Kenneth Tobey plays the US airman who has over-curious scientists to combat, as well as the self-replicating alien plant form. 

Donkey Punch ★★★★
11.15pm-1.15am Film Four 

An invitation onto a luxury yacht in Majorca has unforeseen consequences for three fun-loving northern girls in this edgy British thriller starring Jaime Winstone. It was decried as “morally bankrupt” on release, and it won’t be to everyone’s taste. But it’s certainly menacing and tense, and follows the characters unflinchingly to the conclusion.

Absolute Power ★★★
11.00pm-1.35am ITV4 


Clint Eastwood’s cat burglar is caught in a moral dilemma before being plunged into a political conspiracy  that could leave him as the fall guy. The star-filled cast and pacey direction help to cover over the cracks in the story, which went through several draughts under William Goldman. Maybe the fact that the main character in the original novel, young lawyer Jack Graham, is entirely scratched from the movie, gives an idea of how much rethinking was required to keep Clint in the hero’s chair.