BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
Die Hard ★★★★★
Everyone knows Brits make the best heavies and this is the film – and the late Alan Rickman the Brit – that established such belief. Bruce Willis is the star: New York cop flies to LA to spend Christmas with possibly estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and discovers on arrival that terrorists, led by Rickman, have taken over the skyscraper where she works and are holding her and others hostage. Willis, muscles rippling under increasingly filthy white vest, does the action man stuff well – evading capture while thwarting and picking off the terrorists – but the acting honours belong to Rickman. He plays a very bad guy, intelligent, suave, cruel, intellectually disdainful of his own associates and actually much more interesting than the Willis character. The business outside the skyscraper, involving local cops and a crass TV reporter, slows the action somewhat, but inside it thrilling stunts and explosive special effects – you wouldn’t believe the damage Willis does to this building — more than compensate. Altogether a highly enjoyable romp.
The Wicker Man ★★★★
Strait-laced and devoutly Christian policeman Edward Woodward has his faith put to the test by the bizarre goings-on on a remote Hebridean island in this disturbing British horror/mystery classic. Lured to the island by reports of a missing girl, Woodward discovers a seemingly innocent rural community that follows the old ways to help fulfil the promise of the vital fruit harvest. Neil LaBute’s 2006 remake was roundly panned by all.
Adrien Brody leads a group of killers against an invisible alien foe in this solid and well-realised reboot of the 1987 sci-fi action thriller from franchise fan producer Robert Rodriguez. The humans are picked from the worst Earth has to offer, but they still seem to offer little opposition to their invisible foe, which is on home turf this time round. Director Nimrod Antal (Vacancy) creates a crackling atmosphere, but brings nothing new to the franchise.
Red Heat ★★★
The Cold War thaws out just a little, as Russian cop Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to America and has to team up with police officer James Belushi. This movie was the first sign that Arnie was branching off from the straightforward action genre and into comedy, as he and John Belushi trade cultural insults across the drug-smuggler plot. Arnie actually learned Russian for three months in preparation, but it doesn’t show.
Bump in the Night ★★★
9.00-11.00pm True Entertainment
Journalist Meredith Baxter Birney races against time to save her son from a paedophile kidnapper in this disturbing psychological thriller. Perhaps the most surprising element is the casting of Christopher Reeve as a child abuser: the Superman star was aware of the effect this might have, and warned parents not to let their children watch the film just because he was in it.
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