HDTV Movie Highlights: June 5-11

Defiance: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Saturday.

If Defiance had flouted Hollywood conventions, it could have been an astounding true-life dramatisation of how three brothers helped to hide hundreds of fellows Jews from the Nazis deep in the forests of Belarus. There’s much to admire in the telling and casting of this “untold story” of courage and hardship, and the action sequences are supremely thrilling. But the Bielski brothers’ extraordinary feat is undercut by overfamiliar familial conflicts, contrived romance and a send-in-the-cavalry showdown that defies belief. Edward Zwick directs Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell. (2008)

Behind Enemy Lines II – Axis of Evil: TV3, 11.20pm Saturday.

Direct to DVD sequel that recruits none of the original’s cast members – or excitement. Instead, Melrose Place’s Nicholas Gonzalez takes over from Owen Wilson as the leader of a secret Navy SEALS mission to North Korea. (2006)

Public Enemies: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

Michael Mann’s gangster thriller simmers with promise but doesn’t pack enough heat. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale are too modern to respectively convince as ‘30s bank robber John Dillinger or his FBI nemesis, Melvin Purvis, while the shallow storytelling overshadows even the sensational shootouts. If the HD transfer is the same as the Blu-ray, expect it to veer from extraordinarily sharp to being as murky as Mann’s motivations. (2009)

Crank: High Voltage: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Monday.

As The Hollywood Reporter quipped of the sequel that picks up where the 2006 release, about a poisoned hit man who has only an hour in which to find a cure, ended: “Follows the same formula as the first, with one difference: They’ve managed to ramp up the action and vulgarity beyond the insane heights of the original.”  Jason Statham and Amy Smart again star. (2009)

Two for the Money: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Friday.

Two for the Money is a glitzy, true-life dramatisation of the multi-billion-dollar business that is sports gambling in the United States. Matthew McConaughey plays a handicapper who, for two amazing seasons in the ‘90s, had the Midas touch when betting on pro-football games for clients. Despite being rooted in reality, Two for the Money feels as phoney as it is flashy, largely because of Al Pacino’s grandstanding performance as McConaughey’s mentor. DJ Caruso directs (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) directs. (2005)

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