The Hurt Locker, Billy Elliot, Far from the Madding Crowd: films on TV today

Life's a blast for Jeremy Renner, Jamie Bell makes a pointe, and Julie weaves a spell: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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BARRY NORMAN:  FILM OF THE DAY 
The Hurt Locker ★★★★
11.15pm-1.50am Film Four 

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The film that made Kathryn Bigelow the first woman to win the Oscar for best director, an excellent war movie, set in Baghdad in 2004, is less concerned with politics than with the effect of war on the combatants. Jeremy Renner is the leader of a crack three-man bomb disposal team, a man for whom war is a drug and whose disregard for safety so concerns his sidekicks, Anthony Mackie and Brian Garaghty, that they contemplate killing him to save themselves. There’s plenty of tension, plenty of action but Bigelow’s strong point is in delving into the minds of the soldiers to discover why they do what they do. So we follow Renner and company through a number of nail-biting incidents, often with Iraqi civilians – including possibly the bomb-maker himself – watching with interest. This, you feel, is how the war probably was. Incidentally, there’s a splendid desert gunfight in which you might, just, recognise Ralph Fiennes and Guy Pearce in minuscule roles.


The Mission ★★★
11.55pm-1.55am BBC1 

A handsomely mounted historical drama where Jeremy Irons makes great sacrifices as the Jesuit priest posted in 18th-century South America.


Billy Elliot ★★★★
9.00-10.45pm BBC4 

Straight-talking ballet teacher Julie Walters schools Jamie Bell in the way of adagio and allegro, but his macho miner dad would rather he propped up another kind of bar.


The Other Guys ★★★
10.00pm-12.10am 5★ 

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg make an unlikely but effective comedy partnership as downtrodden desk cops who want a piece of the action.


Far from the Madding Crowd ★★★★
11.00pm-2.00am True Entertainment 

Not the version with Carey Mulligan, but Julie Christie as Thomas Hardy’s captivating heroine Bathsheba Everdene, who casts a spell over the men in 19th-century rural England.


 
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