CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (12A, 108 mins) Comedy/Action/Romance. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Tim Griffin, Timothy John Smith, Thomas Kretschmann, Phil Reeves. Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber.
Released: July 1 (UK & Ireland)
Underscored with a heartfelt anti-bullying message, Central Intelligence is a surprisingly sweet and goofy mismatched buddy comedy that might lack the quick-wittedness promised by its title but has good will in abundance.
Surprisingly, Dwayne Johnson is gifted the lion’s share of the haphazard script’s one-liners and physical pratfalls.
The wrestling superstar turned hulking action hero embraces his character’s eccentricities with gusto, casting the typically hyperactive Kevin Hart as a relative straight man rather than the usual catalyst of on-screen tomfoolery.
Winning chemistry between the two leads galvanises Rawson Marshall Thurber’s picture when gags fall flat or the plot’s various bluffs and double-bluffs nudge the whole enterprise alarmingly close to preposterousness.
Gossamer thin romantic subplots are threaded very loosely around the subterfuge and outlandish spy games, culminating in a surprise final reel cameo that guarantees winning smiles all round as the end credits roll.
Calvin Joyner (Hart) was the golden boy of his high school in 1996, winning countless awards for his sporting prowess.
He proudly assumed the nickname Golden Jet and delighted classmates with his signature move: a backflip from a standing position.
In sharp contrast, overweight misfit Robbie Weirdicht (Johnson) was bullied mercilessly by classmates and suffered the humiliation of being flung naked into the school gymnasium during an end of term student rally hosted by Principal Kent (Phil Reeves).
Twenty years later, Calvin is a humble accountant, who has married his sweetheart, Maggie (Danielle Nicolet).
Their high school reunion beckons and Calvin is reluctant to attend because he doesn’t feel he has delivered on the promise of his formative years.
Out of the blue, Robbie reconnects with Calvin via social media and the two men bond over a couple of drinks.
It transpires that Robbie is a CIA agent, who may or may not be in possession of missile launch codes that are poised to be sold to a mysterious buyer (Thomas Kretschmann).
Rival CIA agent Pamela Harris (Amy Ryan) and her colleagues Mitchell (Tim Griffin) and Cooper (Timothy John Smith) recruit Calvin because they believe Robbie is a terrorist known as the Black Badger.
Torn between past and present, Calvin must deduce if he can trust Robbie or if he is being used as a pawn in a deadly conspiracy.
At a sprightly 108 minutes, Central Intelligence doesn’t outstay its welcome, keeping us guessing about Robbie’s true motives until the explosive final frames.
Thurber’s script, co-written by Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen, punctuates the fractious banter with slow motion action sequences including a hilariously overblown chase around an open-plan office.
Oscar nominee Ryan keeps a straight face as madness swirls around her, as a single-minded career woman trapped in a world of misbehaving men.
The boundless, puppy dog energy of the film and its eager-to-please double-act ultimately proves irresistible.
:: SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 6/10
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE (15, 91 mins)
Released: July 1 (UK & Ireland)
Almost four years after a trio of 20th anniversary special episodes were broadcast on BBC One, Jennifer Saunders’ award-winning sitcom of barbed insults and fashionable excess saunters onto the big screen, directed by Mandie Fletcher.
Edina Monsoon (Saunders) is in the PR doldrums. Her client list has thinned and she continues to clash with her strait-laced daughter Saffy (Julia Sawalha), who has a 13-year-old daughter called Lola (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness). Thankfully, best friend Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) is still in the media eye and her magazine is sponsoring the lavish Huki Muki Retrospective launch party. Supermodel Kate Moss, who is currently between PRs, is due to attend and Edina vows to woo the English rose and land her before arch rival Claudia Bing (Celia Imrie) of Bing, Bing, Bing & Bing.
This hare-brained scheme goes tragically awry and the fashion world points the finger of blame for Kate Moss’ death at Edina and Patsy. Eddy’s trusty secretary Bubble (Jane Horrocks) vanishes at the most inopportune moment so the despondent duo are forced to go on the run. They head for the Cote d’Azur, where they intend to salve their woes by snagging wealthy husbands. Unfortunately, Edina’s mother (June Whitfield) is also in the South of France to celebrate the birthday of her well-to-do sister, Violet (Wanda Ventham).
THE COLONY (15, 106 mins)
Released: July 1 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)
Loosely inspired by true events, The Colony is an impassioned thriller directed by Florian Gallenberger about a loving couple, who become entangled in the 1973 Chilean coup. Lufthansa stewardess Lena (Emma Watson) is distraught to learn that her artist-photographer boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Bruhl) has been apprehended by forces loyal to General Pinochet in the aftermath of a military coup to overthrow President Allende.
Daniel is spirited away to the notorious religious retreat Colonia Dignidad, where political dissidents are tortured and killed. Thankfully, Daniel survives his hellish ordeal and is assigned to menial work under Colonia’s minister Paul Schafer (Michael Nyqvist), who doesn’t tolerate challenges to his authority.
Lena manages to secure a novice position at the Colonia, where she is terrorised by ferocious headmistress Gisela (Richenda Carey). It’s a brutal new life but Lena suffers in silence, plotting her escape from the Colonia with Daniel so they can expose the heinous crimes committed by Schafer and his acolytes to the international community.
NOTES ON BLINDNESS (U, 90 mins)
Released: July 1 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)
In 1983, writer and academic John Hull completely lost his sight after decades of steady deterioration. He decided to make sense of this dramatic change in his day-to-day existence by keeping a diary on audiocassette in which he documented his thoughts and feelings. Over the course of three years, he recorded more than 16 hours of deeply personal material, which were published in 1990 under the title Touching The Rock.
The book was acclaimed as a unique testimony of loss, rebirth and renewal. Filmmakers Pete Middleton and James Spinney draw inspiration from the original audio recordings for this life-affirming portrait of Hull, who died shortly after the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
FROM AFAR (Certificate TBC, 93 mins)
Released: July 1 (UK, selected cinemas)
Lorenzo Vigas’ slow-burning drama won the Golden Lion, the coveted top prize at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. The story centres on fifty-something dental prosthetist Armando (Alfredo Castro), who lives in Caracas, Venezuela but is emotionally disconnected from everyone around him, including his sister.
His only interaction with other people comes when he offers money to teenage and early 20-something boys to accompany him back to his orderly home. Armando asks them to undress while he pleasures himself then the boys leave. Armando picks up a sullen youth called Elder (Luis Silva), who initially complies with the older man’s demands then beats up his host, taking not only the money but also a precious family heirloom. Unexpectedly, Armando continues to pursue Elder and the young man becomes intrigued. A strange yet tender bond forms between the two men, which helps Armando to heal the deep wounds of a strained relationship with his father.
NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (12A, 129 mins)
Released: July 4 (UK & Ireland)
Seeing is deceiving in the sequel to the 2013 crime caper about a quartet of illusionists known as the Four Horsemen, who pull off the ultimate heist. The follow-up, directed by Jon M Chu, unfolds one year later. FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) assigns the remaining members of the Four Horsemen – J Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) – a daring new case.
They must expose a corrupt businessman called Owen Case (Ben Lamb), who possesses software that maliciously steals personal information. An illusionist called Lula May (Lizzy Caplan) replaces former member Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and the fearsome foursome use their sleight of hand and guile to infiltrate Case’s security. Unfortunately, their target has a few nifty tricks up his sleeve and Daniel, Merritt, Jack and Lula fall into the clutches of mastermind Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), the genius behind Case’s hi-tech operation.
DISCOVER ARTS: ST PETER’S AND THE PAPAL BASILICAS OF ROME (U, 95 mins)
Released: July 4 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)
In March 2015, Pope Francis announced the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to open holy doors at cathedrals and other major churches around the world so the faithful can confess and seek forgiveness for their sins. This HD documentary directed by Luca Viotto marks the momentous occasion by capturing Rome’s four basilicas on screen for the first time.
Vatican museums director Antonio Paolucci, architect Paolo Portoghesi, art historian Claudio Strinati, and Micol Forti, director of the Vatican Museums Collection Of Contemporary Art, guide viewers around St Peter’s, St John In The Lateran, St Mary Major and St Paul Outside The Walls, revealing the rich history of the buildings and drawing attention to the famous art contained within including striking works by Bernini, Borromini and Michelangelo.
THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (12A, 110 mins)
Released: July 6 (UK & Ireland)
Based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Legend Of Tarzan was shot at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden near Watford as well as on location around the UK, and propels the muscular hero back to his jungle home to avert ecological disaster.
It has been many years since Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) left behind the jungles of Africa to settle into gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Margot Robbie). The lush paradise of the Congo is a sweet, distant memory until John is asked to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament during an expedition to Africa.
He gladly accepts, unaware that Machiavellian Belgian envoy, Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), is manipulating the situation for vast personal gain. When John realises he has been a pawn in Rom’s deadly game, the primal protector of the past is unleashed and Tarzan swings back into action to protect his animal friends from exploitation.
KENNETH BRANAGH THEATRE COMPANY LIVE: ROMEO & JULIET (Certificate TBC, 165 mins)
Released: July 7 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)
Richard Madden and Lily James, who appeared together in the 2015 film version of Cinderella, play the star-crossed lovers in Shakespeare’s heart-breaking romance, which is broadcast live from the stage of the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End. Romeo and Juliet are the youngest children of the Montague and Capulet clans, who have been sworn enemies for decades. Despite the rivalry between their parents, the youngsters fall madly in love and marry in secret with the help of Romeo’s friend, the Friar (Matthew Hawksley).
Their happiness is cut short when Juliet’s brother Tybalt (Ansu Kabia) fatally wounds Romeo’s loyal servant Mercutio (Derek Jacobi), and Romeo – wishing to avenge his dear friend’s memory – kills the murderous Capulet, thereby re-igniting the bitter war of words between the two dynasties. Meera Syal co-stars as the Nurse, directed by Kenneth Branagh.