Adapted by Peter Morgan and directed Tom Hooper (best known for his TV miniseries work on Longford and John Adams) it lacks the dark, interior qualities that made the book so riveting but features some excellent performances.
Sheen does a fantastic job in the title role, bringing the same kind of charm and authenticity that featured in his previous portrayals of Tony Blair and David Frost.
It is unusual for Sony to do a British film like this but they have done an excellent job in marketing as a film as something football and non-football fans can enjoy.
Given the competition this week, it stands a chance of claiming the top spot given the good reviews and positive word of mouth.
Directed by Alex Proyas, it mixes drama, action and sci-fi and whilst plodding for the most part, does actually contain three excellent set-pieces and an ending that may surprise people with its ambition.
E1 Films were a little reluctant to screen it for critics and actually released it early on Wednesday to bump up the opening weekend’s figures.
Given that Cage is still quite a big draw in the action genre (despite his incessant frowning in films like this) it should crack the top two and depending on how well The Damned United does, looks like the marginal favourite to claim the top spot.
The Haunting in Connecticut (Entertainment): Another horror film hits UK cinemas and this one is about the allegedly true story (which almost certainly means its total bollocks) of the Snedeker family’s encounter with the paranormal in Southington, Connecticut.
This is one of those films with plenty of posters and billboards and virtually no real buzz.
I’m guessing that it will have a short cinema life and will make most of its money on DVD. [Cert 15 / Vue West End & Nationwide]
IN SELECTED RELEASE
Two Lovers (Lionsgate): A romantic drama film, very loosely based on Dostoevsky‘s “White Nights” which stars Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled young man living in Brighton Beach in New York, who falls in love with two very different women (Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw).
Directed by James Gray, who has made films such as The Yards and We Own the Night, it is a pleasingly old fashioned and charming film with Phoenix excellent in the central role (easily his best since Walk The Line in 2005) and good work from Paltrow and Shaw.
The technical work (notice the lack of sets) and cinematography by Joaquin Baca-Asay are all first rate and although it is getting a limited release, is well worth seeking out. [Cert 15 / Apollo Picc Circus, C’World Haymarket, Curzon Mayfair & Key Cities]
Traitor (Momentum Pictures): A political thriller about an FBI agent (Guy Pearce) who heads up the investigation into a dangerous international conspiracy, which seems to lead back to a former U.S. Special Operations officer, Samir Horn (Don Cheadle). [Cert 12A / Empire Leicester Square & Key Cities]
Aa Dekhen Zara (Eros): A Bollywood romantic sci-fi action thriller (yes, you did read that right), starring Neil Mukesh and Bipasha Basu. [C’Worlds Feltham, Ilford, S’bury Ave., Odeon Greenwich, Vue O2 & Key Cities]