American Gangster, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, Hanna: films on TV today

Make a date with drugs baron Denzel Washington, defecting spy Richard Burton and deadly assassin Saoirse Ronan: the RadioTimes team’s pick of free-to-air films on TV today

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ANDREW COLLINS:  FILM OF THE DAY 

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American Gangster ★★★★
10.00pm-1.10am ITV4 

With Russell Crowe on form in current 1970s cop caper The Nice Guys, here he is in rather less comedic mode in a true-life New York crime saga set between 1968 and 1974. Denzel Washington brings a suave tranquility to his role as emerging Harlem drugs lord Frank Lucas, while Crowe’s honest New Jersey cop Richie Roberts juggles divorce, pariah status within a corrupt police department and, eventually, the logistics of bringing Lucas down. It’s as if The Godfather, GoodFellas and Scarface met HBO’s The Wire: grand overstatement combined with procedural detail, grainy 70s style and junkie sleaze, all held together by the sure hand of Ridley Scott. Beyond Josh Brolin’s poisonously bad cop, a fine supporting cast struggles to make any meaningful impact in the wake of a dominant Washington – not least in the poorly sketched female roles – and fidelity to events takes the dramatic sting out of an operatic climax. Nonetheless, a classy crime fable with a touch of Scorsese and De Palma. 


The Spy Who Came In from the Cold ★★★★

2.45-5.00pm Film4 

One of the great Cold War thrillers, starring a never-better Richard Burton as a British spy being courted by the other side. Shot in the bleakest black and white, it’s a world away from James Bond, and deliberately so.   


Single White Female ★★★★

9.00-11.10pm Movie Mix 

Bridget Fonda finds that imitation is not a form of flattery when Jennifer Jason Leigh moves in and starts to take over her life. Handbags (and high-heels) at dawn.    


Welcome to the Jungle ★★★

10.50pm-12.55am 5STAR 

Dwayne Johnson was still being billed as plain old “The Rock” when he made this knockabout actioner set in the Amazon (Hawaii, in fact) and co-starring Seann William Scott and Rosario Dawson. Lots of skull-crushing fun.  


Hanna ★★★★

11.20pm-1.30am Film Four 

Saoirse Ronan stars as the teenage assassin with Cate Blanchett in her sights in Joe Wright’s quirky, fast-paced thriller. 


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