Films on TV round-up: submarines and killing machines

Ed Williamson

14th August 2011

It's time on to turn on your spanking new, freshly-looted TVs and see what films are on this week. Just joking, kids. Remember: crime doesn't pay. Unless of course someone pays you to commit crimes, in which case it sort of does, you could argue.

Commencing: Monday 15th August 2011

Crimson Tide (1995) Saturday, Sky1, 9pm

I usually deal only in films available on Freeview here, but I'll make an exception on the basis that I watched Crimson Tide this morning having picked it up second-hand for £1.50 yesterday, and am thus slightly less likely to base this section on an entirely misremembered plot like I usually do.

Denzel Washington climbs aboard the nuclear submarine the USS Alabama as the college-educated executive officer to Gene Hackman's grizzled old stager captain, knowing they might have to launch a pre-emptive strike against Russia, where a nationalist fringe group has seized control of a missile base. So basically wiping out about a billion people, then. This is a Simpson/Bruckheimer production, after all: a team you could never accuse of over-concern with shades of grey.

When orders come through to launch but then the communication lines are cut halfway through another message, they can't be sure whether it was an order to abort or not. Hackman wants to launch; Washington doesn't, and so begins a mutiny.

With almost the entire film taking place on the submarine and no cuts back to worried wives and children on land, this is a comparatively muted offering when you consider that these are the same guys who brought you Bad Boys, The Rock and Top Gun. There aren't many explosions; just dialogue in the main, some of it contributed in uncredited rewrites by Quentin Tarantino, whose bits you can spot a mile off (it mainly involves discussion of movies and comic-books).

So what you're left with is the prospect of a nuclear holocaust, communicated to you entirely through the discussion of it. And it works, somehow: the two principals play off each other very effectively despite the hackneyed old-schooler-versus-college-boy setup. It'd make a good play, in fact. I'd be surprised if Jerry Bruckheimer was looking to move into theatre, though.
The Bourne Identity (2002) Saturday, ITV1, 10.30pm

I must admit, when it comes to films about spies and espionage, I generally don't know what's going on. I'm not sure I've ever followed the plot of a James Bond movie all the way through, below the surface detail of fights on plane wings and casual sex. So maybe (just to warn you, even I think this next segue's tenuous, so Christ knows what you'll think), I like The Bourne Identity because its main character hasn't got a clue what's going on either. (Yeah!)

Jason Bourne is fished out of the sea by French fishermen with no memory of who he is or how he got there, and a laser projector surgically implanted in his hip that reveals the number of a Swiss bank account. So off he trots to Zurich to find out what's going on, and on the way he discovers he's dead good at fighting, which is handy because the mega-secret CIA branch he worked for now wants him dead.

Despite being based on one of a series of ponderous, over-lengthy books, The Bourne Identity turned out to be the best thriller made in years, and the first of a series that would revive the spy genre (the first of the rebooted Bond films, Casino Royale, also on TV this week, plundered them for ideas and owed them a heavy debt) and turn Matt Damon into a more than credible action hero, able to pull off the best car chase since The Blues Brothers in a Mini, of all things.

With Bourne as the hero of the piece, the moral of the tale is that it's fine to be an assassin as long as you don't remember anything about it. So you see, crime actually does pay: just don't forget who's supposed to be paying you. Because it kind of defeats the purpose, like.
Also on this week

Dirty Dancing Monday, 5*, 9pm (also Saturday 6pm)
Let the Right One In Monday, Film4, 9pm (also Friday 11pm)
The Interpreter Monday, ITV2, 10pm
Batman Tuesday, ITV2, 9pm
Kickboxer Tuesday, 5USA, 9pm
I, Robot Tuesday, Film4, 9pm
Inside Man Tuesday, ITV2, 11.40pm
Quadrophenia Tuesday, ITV4, 11.55pm (also Wednesday 10pm)
Twilight Wednesday, C4, 8pm
Sliding Doors Wednesday, BBC3, 9pm
Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) Wednesday, Film4, 9pm
Batman Returns Wednesday, ITV2, 10pm
Hot Shots! Wednesday, E4, 11pm
Conan the Barbarian (1982) Thursday, ITV4, 12.30am (also 9pm)
Enemy at the Gates Thursday, Film4, 9pm
Casino Royale Thursday, ITV2, 10pm (also Friday 9pm)
Conan the Destroyer Thursday, ITV4, 11.35pm (also Friday 9pm)
Saw Thursday, Film4, 11.35pm
Transporter 3 Friday, Film4, 9pm
The Sum of All Fears Friday, More4, 9pm (also Saturday 11.10pm)
The Bridges of Madison County Friday, ITV3, 10pm
Jaws Friday, ITV1, 10.35pm
Lethal Weapon 2 Friday, ITV4, 11.10pm
Goldfinger Saturday, ITV1, 3.30pm
Rocky III Saturday, ITV4, 8.30pm
Die Hard Saturday, C4, 9pm
Bridget Jones's Diary Saturday, ITV2, 10.15pm
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes Sunday, C4, 1.05am

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