Every week Mat Corne scours the TV Guide for the best movies showing on UK free-to-air TV. So for those of you that refuse to pay for Sky Movies, Amazon Prime or Netflix, here are some of the best freeview movies for the coming week.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Paramount Network, Saturday 18th, 23:25 & Wednesday 22nd, 21:00
Ridley Scott’s film tells the harrowing true story of the botched attempt by U.S. Army Rangers to remove a faction leader from power in the Somali capital Mogadishu in 1993. Much of the pleasantries and camaraderie of a typical war movie are dispensed with, with action getting underway almost immediately and proceeding at an unrelenting pace throughout the film’s running time. An impressive cast including Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana and Josh Hartnett play their roles as members of the various U.S. Army units with gritty realism, and Scott’s direction takes you right into the thick of the chaos. The film was criticised in some quarters for factual inaccuracies and the inevitable glorifying of American involvement in the incident, but this is still one of the most thrilling and compelling visions of modern warfare you’re likely to see.
The Social Network (2010)
Sony Movies, Monday 20th, 23:15
Jesse Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard computing student who comes up with the idea of a social networking website for his fellow students. The rest, as they say, is history which is still being made. What was in reality a fairly boring story is spiced up by some over-dramatised incidents, compelling performances from all the main stars and David Fincher’s typically subversive direction. As an insight into the creators of something that has become part of everyday life for much of the world’s population, this is a truly fascinating film. It may not paint a completely accurate picture of the people involved, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
Olympus Has Fallen (2011)
5Star, Wednesday 22nd, 21:00
This action thriller is probably best described as ‘Die Hard in the White House’, as a terrorist attack on the U.S. seat of power leaves president Aaron Eckhart fighting for his life, ably assisted by estranged friend and former Army Ranger Gerard Butler. What should be a generic and throwaway movie is raised above the norm by engaging performances by the two leads, along with the always-reliable Morgan Freeman in a supporting role and solid direction by Antoine Fuqua. Critics were divided on the film, but it performed well at the box office compared to its relatively modest budget and provides a reasonable amount of intelligence along with the explosive thrills.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Sony Movies, Wednesday 22nd, 18:55
Bill Murray is in some of the finest form of his career as a grumpy TV weatherman, reluctantly sent to a small town to cover its annual ‘Groundhog Day’ festival. Upon waking the next morning, he finds himself doomed to repeat that same day over and over again, with consequences ranging from the absurd to the tragic, until he finally finds the key to escaping the time loop is changing his outlook on life and finding love with his producer, played by Andie MacDowell. Only moderately successful at the time, the film has since gained the status of a comedy classic thanks to Murray’s fabulous performance, and even the usually unbearable MacDowell plays her part well. It’s a great film, but afterwards you’ll never want to listen to Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve Got You Babe” ever again!
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
ITV4, Thursday 23rd, 21:00
I’m actually more a fan of the first film, but there’s no denying that James Cameron’s follow-up is an awesome spectacle. At the time of release it was the most expensive film ever made, but grossed more than five times its production costs at the box office. Arnie returns as a cyborg sent back from the post-apocalyptic future, but this time he’s the good guy pitched against the shapeshifting T-1000, portrayed in menacing fashion by Robert Patrick, assisted by some then-revolutionary CGI effects. With a story that moves from one action sequence to another at breakneck speed, intermingled with some more touching moments from the human characters, T2 is rightly recognised as one of the best sequels of all time.