THE HUNT (15) Three stars

Hunters become prey in a satirical social thriller directed by Craig Zobel, which takes aim at preconceptions on both sides of the political and class divide in present-day America.

Loosely inspired by Richard Connell’s 1924 short story The Most Dangerous Game, The Hunt was scheduled for release last summer.

Real-life shootings on consecutive days in El Paso and Dayton followed by a loaded tweet from US President Donald Trump shrouded the picture in a cloak of notoriety, which filmmakers hope, six months later, might translate into box office takings.

Anchored by eye-catching performances from Betty Gilpin and two-time

Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, Zobel’s intentionally overblown showdown between working-class “deplorables” and wealthy “liberal elites” doesn’t stint on the

stomach-churning splatter.

A bloodied eyeball, still attached to the optic nerve, is wrenched from an eye socket by a stiletto heel and grenades blow cast members limb from limb.

Screenwriters Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof poke fun at broadly defined characters, chastising one “redneck” who assumes the worst about a family of illegal immigrants with the same venom as they deride public displays of political correctness from the “elites”.

Twelve strangers regain consciousness, gags padlocked to their mouths to stifle cries for help.

The discombobulated dozen includes car rental company employee Crystal (Gilpin) and podcast conspiracy theorist Gary (Ethan Suplee). The motley crew have been drugged and kidnapped in different states then transplanted to a forest clearing, supposedly in Arkansas.

When rifle shots ring out and a head explodes, the stricken strangers realise the wicked whispers online must be true. They are being hunted for sickening sport by

well-to-do Athena (Swank), Liberty (Teri Wyble), Martin (Dean J West), Peter (Vince Pisani) and Richard (Glenn Howerton).

While some of the doomed dozen blunder into traps laid by ringleader Athena and her cohorts, Crystal demonstrates surprising tactical nous as she retaliates against her attackers.

The blood-soaked battle royale shifts to a remote manor house where hunters gather with an overpriced bottle of champagne nestled on ice to toast an end to the carefully orchestrated slaughter.

It’s easy to see how The Hunt could be dismissed as an egregious assault on red and blue states but Zobel’s picture is too wildly over the top and absurd to be consumed with brow-beating seriousness.

One potential victim escapes from a spike pit only to be flung back into the same hole by an incendiary device, a hunter is distracted because filmmaker Ava DuVernay liked his social media post, while another screeches “climate change is real” as a target takes their final gasp of poisoned air. Zobel boobytraps the moral high ground with trip wires and mines then stands back as severed body parts wheel through the air.

MISBEHAVIOUR (12A) Three stars

The fight to end female objectification explodes in a cloud of white flour in director Philippa Lowthorpe’s timely drama of empowerment and activism.

Based on a true story, Misbehaviour harks back to an era which crudely defined swimsuit-clad physical perfection as a curvy 36-24-36.

Screenwriters Gaby Chiappe and Rebecca Frayn distil emotionally charged newspaper headlines about the 1970 Miss World beauty pageant into an entertaining but lightweight rallying cry against sexism, which preaches politely to the Me Too and Time’s Up congregations.

Key messaging is divided predominantly between Keira Knightley’s prim academic and Jessie Buckley’s authority-flouting motormouth, who baits the police by defiling offensive billboard adverts with a can of spray paint. Fractiousness predictably mellows into sisterly solidarity, building to a climactic act of defiance in front of an estimated 100million TV viewers.

MY SPY (12A) Three stars

A trained killer and a young girl become unlikely allies in the battle against global terrorism in director Peter Segal’s

family-friendly caper. Special Forces operative JJ (Dave Bautista) struggles to embrace the subtleties of retraining as a spy under CIA director David Kim (Ken Jeong).

JJ’s heavy-handed approach to one undercover mission results in the loss of a nuclear core to terrorist Marquez. To redeem himself, JJ begrudgingly undertakes covert surveillance of Marquez’s sister-in-law, Kate Newton, with IT expert Bobbi Ault.

JJ is ordered to keep a low profile to avoid any further embarrassment to the CIA.

Unfortunately, Kate’s resourceful

nine-year-old daughter Sophie (Chloe Coleman) blows his cover and blackmails JJ into training her as a spy. The girl also engineers a date between JJ and her lonely mother, hoping the kind-hearted hardman might want to become a permanent addition to her life. With his mission compromised and his feelings for Kate growing, JJ faces a crisis of conscience that will determine his long-term future in the CIA.

BLOODSHOT (12A) Three stars

Vin Diesel trades the high-octane thrills of the Fast And The Furious series for futuristic carnage in an action-packed thriller based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name.

Grizzled Marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is shot dead during a mission but regains consciousness in Kuala Lumpur in the care of Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce).

The pioneering medic has brought Ray back to life using nanotechnology, augmenting the marine’s strength, agility, speed and healing capabilities on the battlefield.

Renamed Bloodshot, Ray wages top-secret war alongside other enhanced killing machines including KT (Eiza Gonazlez) and former Navy Seal Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan).

As the body count mounts, Ray experiences disorientating flashbacks to his former life.

CALM WITH HORSES (15) Three stars

Nick Rowland makes his feature film directorial debut with a gritty Irish drama of crime and punishment, adapted from a short story in Colin Barrett’s collection Young Skins. Paudi Devers and his brother Hector are drug dealers who preside over a vast network of low-lives and criminals paid to do their bidding. Their cousin Dympna (Barry Keoghan) is a lieutenant in the operation and he is entrusted to oversee former boxer Douglas (Cosmo Jarvis), who doles out beatings at the Devers’ command.

Douglas needs the work to support his autistic five-year-old son who requires expensive specialist schooling. He sees the boy’s behavioural traits in himself and Douglas contemplates the possibility that he has a similar developmental disorder.


1. Onward

2. The Invisible Man

3. Military Wives

4. Sonic The Hedgehog

5. Dark Waters

6. Blumhouse's Fantasy Island

7. Dolittle

8. Baaghi 3

9. Parasite

10. 1917

(Chart courtesy of Cineworld)