A slick but refreshingly unpredictable thriller which manages to pull a performance of some emotional complexity from action star Mel Gibson (above). Abandoning his usual gun-happy persona, Gibson stars as bullish Manhattan businessman Tom Mullen, a millionaire whose monied comfort is exploded by the kidnapping of his son. Instead of paying the $2 million ransom demanded by Gary Sinise's bent cop, Gibson decides to take a gamble, using the dollars to put a bounty on Sinise's head - a rather more ruthless approach to childcare than that espoused in director Ron Howard's previous family outing, Parenthood. In fact, the Hollywood syrup-merchant largely abandons his trademark schmaltz for a satisfyingly ambiguous drama, even going so far as to apportion some unsympathetic qualities to his lead - the height of subversion when it comes to this kind of big-budget studio fare. A surprisingly human and credible portrait of relationships in extremis.
The Frighteners (15) CIC, rental, 25 July.
After the classy Heavenly Creatures, Peter Jackson shows a renewed appetite for gluttonous bad taste with this gloriously schlocky horror. Michael J Fox stars as a fraudulent ghostbuster who employs a bunch of reprobate revenants to scare his small-town clientele before moving in to Hoover up the ectoplasm and fees. The spooking stakes are raised when the Grim Reaper himself begins stalking the town, killing off residents by giving their hearts a distinctly unfriendly squeeze. Great effects and a silly storyline that bowls along offering shocks and laughs in equal measure.
Daylight (12) CIC, rental, on release.
Disaster movie with Sylvester Stallone reprising his brawny, blue-collar hero. After a breathtakingly explosive start which sees an underwater tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey ravaged by toxic fire, the movie slumps into a formulaic straitjacket - with the usual cross-section of selfless and selfish humanity struggling for survival. The dangers are over-determined ("God, this is too much," exclaims one victim, with disarming reflexivity as water pours through the tunnel ceiling) and the script underwritten - as if Sly's own inarticulacy had infected the whole cast.Reuse content