WEEK IN MOVIES
SUNDAY JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
WIN, 9.15PM ★★ All that the new Jack Ryan shares in common with the crafty CIA operative in the many best-selling books by the late Tom Clancy is the name Jack Ryan. In Shadow Recruit, our man Jack (played by Chris “the younger Captain Kirk” Pine) is still in the employ of the CIA, and destined to smother a super-sinister global conspiracy with just seconds to spare. The rest of the movie, however, rejects the Clancy canon in favour of repositioning Ryan as a junior-league James Bond. who somehow finds himself in a Mission: Impossible sequel. Takes place mostly in Moscow – where Kenneth Branagh (also director here) wrestles with a wonky Russki accent – before a fair finale on the streets of Manhattan. The end result is kind of watchable, kind of laughable, and completely disposable.. Co-stars Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner.
MONDAY THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
FOXTEL PREMIERE, 8.30PM ★★ Here we have filmmaker Guy Ritchie reheating a Cold War concept that rated its socks off on the box more than 50 years ago. While definitely an attractively designed action movie, its unabashed good looks aren’t enough to stop you noticing your pulse rate isn’t exactly rising in a hurry. The setting sits smack-bang in the middle of the 1960s, where super-suave US secret agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) joins forces with his uncool-and-unhinged KGB counterpart Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to clean up some bad business involving dirty nukes.
TUESDAY NED KELLY
ONE, 8.30PM ★★ A muddled take on the life and times of the Australian bushranger, pandering to the myth of an Australian Robin Hood instead of challenging it. Solidly evokes the atmosphere of a colourful era in our history, but on shaky ground trying to make a saint of someone who was anything but. Heath Ledger’s Kelly will save the day for most viewers, who should enjoy the journey even if patchy storytelling rides roughshod over the facts.
FOXTEL PREMIERE, 6.40PM ★★★ At once dour yet inspiring, this arresting period drama isolates a crucial point in time for an important movement that fought hard to secure the right to vote for British women. In the year 1912, Maud (Carey Mulligan, holding the fine form shown in Far From the Madding Crowd) is a young working mother whose life is transformed by the cause. Co-stars Meryl Streep (used sparingly, but powerfully as famous Suffragette spearhead Emmeline Pankhurst).
THURSDAY THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
8.30PM, ACTION/ADVENTURE ★★★★★ A perfect end to Christopher Nolan’s astonishingly ambitious Batman trilogy. The story picks up eight years after the completion of The Dark Knight, with the Caped
Crusader (Christian Bale) forced out of self-imposed exile when a band of nucleararmed anarchists holds Gotham City to ransom. The lead bad guy is Bane, a metal-muzzled menace who will provoke both outright fear and fascination thanks to the brilliant acting of Tom Hardy.
FRIDAY PITCH PERFECT 2
FOXTEL PREMIERE, 6.30PM ★★ You can safely file Pitch Perfect 2 under “fans-only affair”. Of course, given there are so many fans of the original Pitch Perfect – a breakout hit in 2012 – a sequel serving up more of the same was welcome. For the uninitiated, it means wall-to-wall a cappella singing routines, broken up by lots of wonky comedy, a little romance and an unbreakable girl-gang camaraderie. These verses need a fresh voice. Stars Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld.
SATURDAY HAPPY FEET TWO
GO!, 6.30PM ★★ Diverting, if unnecessarily repetitive sequel to the Australian animated musical smash hit. Tensions arise down in Antarctica when the tap-happy penguin Mumble discovers his young son Sven does not want to follow in his dance-steps. Voices of Elijah Wood, Sofia Vergara and Brad Pitt.