Films of the Week

Mad Max, Monday, ITV4, 9pm/Mad Max 2, Tuesday, ITV4, 9pm/Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Wednesday, ITV4, 9pm

Between 1979 and 1985, Australian director George Miller shot a series of three violent, dystopian films which made a star of their lead – Mel Gibson – and put the name Max Rockatansky into the pantheon of all-time action movie greats. Here ITV4 presents them in a triple bill, albeit one spread over consecutive week nights.

Everyone has their favourite. Mad Max, the opener and the most defiantly low budget, gives Max’s origin story and introduces his iconic car, a super-charged V8 GT Falcon Pursuit Special. The setting is the Australia of the near-future, a place where motorbike gangs run riot, and law and order has broken down – or almost: Rockatansky is a highway patrol man charged with keeping the highways relatively safe. When tragedy strikes, Max embarks on a quest for vengeance.

After that it’s all about survival at any cost as Miller ramps up the post-apocalyptic aspect which will inform the next two instalments as well as the acclaimed 2015 re-boot, Mad Max: Fury Road. With Tom Hardy now in the title role, it won six Oscars from 10 nominations.

Rolling Stone magazine’s Greatest Action Movies Ever list will have you believe Mad Max 2 is the best of the lot, and there’s certainly a case to be made. It introduces Bruce Spence as the pilot of a steampunk gyro-copter, and brings a whiff of High Plains Drifter to a story which sees Max (now accompanied by a faithful dog) defend a community of settlers (they just happen to have a makeshift oil refinery, so his motives aren’t entirely altruistic). Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is absolutely bonkers and features a cargo cult centred on a crashed airliner and a place called Bartertown overseen by the fearsome Aunt Entity – or Tina Turner, as she’s better known.

It’s not quite in the spirit of COP26, but if it’s high octane thrills you want, spend your week with Max Max.


Funny Face, Talking Pictures TV, 11.30am

When fearsome editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) wants a model to represent her magazine, photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) picks book-store clerk Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn). Although she's more interested in philosophy than fashion, Jo agrees because it means a free trip to Paris. Sadly, it isn't long before her desire to sit in dark cafes talking about Sartre clashes with her new role – and her burgeoning romance with the snapper. Astaire looks a little old to be wooing Hepburn, and the plot is thin to say the least, but this musical is still a joy from start to finish. With Singin' in the Rain co-director Stanley Donen at the helm, you'd expect great song-and-dance routines, but it also boasts fabulous frocks, a generous dash of humour and a scene-stealing turn from Thompson.


My Feral Heart, BBC Two, 11.15pm

Steven Brandon delivers a powerful performance in this touching drama. He plays Luke, a young man with Down's syndrome, who has been acting as a carer for his mother. Following her death, he is forced to move into a residential home, where he struggles with the loss of both his mum and his independence. He does begin to strike up friendships with care worker Eve (Shana Swash) and Pete (Will Rastall), who is carrying out community service, but it's when he discovers a mysterious, seemingly feral girl (Pixie Le Knot) in the countryside around the home that Luke really regains a sense of purpose. That latter subplot never quite gels with the rest of the film, but there's still much to admire here.


Lucy, ITV4, 10pm

Carefree American student Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is enjoying her new life in Taiwan until her boyfriend persuades her to deliver a briefcase on his behalf. The recipient turns out to be sadistic Korean drug lord Mr Jang (Choi Min-sik). He knocks Lucy unconscious and when she awakes, she discovers the mob has surgically implanted a deadly blue drug called CPH4 in her abdomen and she is being press-ganged into working as their mule. But then the bright blue crystals leak into Lucy's system, endowing her with superhuman abilities such as telepathy and telekinesis. Directed at a breathless pace by Luc Besson, Lucy was one of the biggest box-office hits of 2014, and the profusion of eye-popping action sequences certainly holds our attention, even if the plot loses its grasp on neurological theory.


The Place Beyond The Pines, BBC One, 11.55pm

Fearless motorcyclist Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) is part of a stunt show in a travelling circus, until he learns he has fathered a son by one former conquest, Romina (Eva Mendes). Determined to provide for his family, he starts robbing banks, and enterprising cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) is in the right place at the right time to apprehend Luke during one botched robbery. Then 15 years later, the men's wayward offspring, AJ (Emory Cohen) and Jason (Dane DeHaan), are flung together with violent consequences. The Place Beyond the Pines is a slow-burning meditation on crime and punishment in which the sins of fathers are revisited upon the sons.

And one to stream …

Red Notice, Netflix

Utterly preposterous from start to finish but great fun nonetheless, this light-hearted crime caper marks the third collaboration between writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber and Dwayne Johnson, everybody’s favourite ex-wrestler.

So far Thurber has cast Johnson as an ex-FBI agent-turned-security expert (Skyscraper) and an on-the-run CIA agent (Central Intelligence). He doesn’t stray much from that formula here (mind you, having voiced a shapeshifting demi-god in Disney’s Muana, you wouldn’t say Johnson doesn’t have range. Not to his face, anyway).

The big man is John Hartley, an FBI profiler hunting audacious art thief Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds) in the company of Interpol’s Inspector Das (Ritu Arya). The back story involves three bling-tastic golden eggs which were presented to Cleopatra by Marc Anthony as a token of his love. The whereabouts of two of them are known – one is in a museum in Rome, the other is owned by an international arms dealer known as Sotto Voce (Chris Diamantopoulos) – but the third is apparently lost. Anybody who can find it and deliver all three to an Egyptian billionaire by the time of his daughter’s wedding, however, stands to make a princely sum.

Tipped off by another art thief, known only as The Bishop, Hartley and Das rock up in Rome in time to catch Booth in the act of stealing the first egg. Catch, but not actually catch: he escapes on a moped and high-tails it to his James Bond villain lair in Bali. Not to be outdone, Hartley and Das are waiting there when he arrives. Well, I did say it was preposterous.

In Bali, the egg is retrieved and placed under lock and key. Only it isn’t, because The Bishop (Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, pictured below) manages to steal it from under everyone’s noses. On top of that she frames Hartley, who ends up in a scary Russian prison sharing a cell with Booth. And so their odd couple routine begins, with Hartley trying to clear his name and catch The Bishop, and Booth aiming to still collect all three eggs (and a fat cheque from the Egyptian billionaire) as well as always having the last word in any argument.

The script is genuinely funny, the action sequences are slick (so they should be: Red Notice is rumoured to be Netflix’s most expensive film to date) and there are knowing nods to Wonder Woman and Raiders Of The Lost Ark (Reynolds whistles the theme tune at one point). And it all ties up just loosely enough for you to know there’s going to be a sequel.

Trigger warning: Ed Sheeran appears playing himself.