Entertainment: What to watch this week

By Damon Smith

The latest download, streaming and DVD releases you need to know about this week.

Vice

(Cert 15, 132 mins, Entertainment One, Comedy/Drama/Romance, available from May 20 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from Jun 3 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99) Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Jesse Plemons, Justin Kirk, Don McManus.

In 1963 Wyoming, a young Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) works on the power lines and drinks to excess. He is a crushing disappointment to 21-year-old sweetheart Lynne (Amy Adams), whose father also lives by the bottle. "I love you, Lynne," implores Dick. "Then prove it!" she barks. In response, Dick secures an internment at the White House, where he assiduously aligns himself with Republican Congressman Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). By playing the waiting game on Capitol Hill, Dick manoeuvres himself into the position of running mate to George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) during the 2000 US presidential election. Haunted by his wife's words - "When you have power, people will try to take it from you. Always" - Dick positions allies such as Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby (Justin Kirk) and legal counsel David Addington (Don McManus) in key positions. Written and directed by Adam McKay, Vice is a briskly paced and engrossing portrait of ambition, which nervously prowls the corridors of power in Washington D.C. to satirise a true story of malicious meddling and unabashed self-interest. The script takes aim at a dizzying array of easy targets and hits the majority. Like Gary Oldman's tour-de-force theatrics in Darkest Hour, Bale slips beneath the skin of his political puppetmaster with elan. He stares defiantly at the camera as Cheney persuades Bush to expand the remit of a vice president so he can "handle the more mundane jobs... military, energy and foreign policy". Adams is equally compelling as a steely spouse, who expects her man to step up, seize his destiny by the throat and squeeze, hard.

The Mule

(Cert 15, 112 mins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Drama/Thriller/Romance, available from May 20 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from Jun 3 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £26.99/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray £34.99) Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Michael Pena, Dianne Wiest, Taissa Farmiga, Alison Eastwood, Andy Garcia.

Cash-strapped Korean War veteran Earl Stone (Clint Eastwood) is offered a deceptively simple way to dig himself out of a financial hole by couriering a package across state lines - no questions asked. The bag contains a consignment of drugs for cigar-puffing cartel boss Laton (Andy Garcia). As an elderly driver with an unblemished record, Earl is ignored by police and he is rewarded handsomely for his services. The volume of cocaine increases on subsequent runs until Earl is the most profitable mule in Laton's stable, earning him the nickname Tata. New-found wealth rebuilds bridges to Earl's embittered ex-wife Mary (Dianne Wiest) and estranged daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood). Meanwhile, hotshot DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper) and partner Trevino (Michael Pena) receive intelligence about a mule called Tata and begin a stakeout. Adapted for the screen with an exceedingly heavy hand by Nick Schenk, The Mule is a gently paced thriller inspired by an outlandish true story of opportunistic criminal enterprise. The linear script hammers home Earl's failings as a husband and father with the subtlety of a battering ram to a rickety wooden door. Oscar-winner Eastwood invests his politically incorrect old coot with rascally charm and old-fashioned grit. Cooper and Wiest are solid in barely three-dimensional supporting roles but both spark pleasingly with the 88-year-old leading man in pivotal exchanges. The trickle of bad blood is neatly and conveniently staunched before the end credits roll, suggesting that crime pays to salve deep emotional wounds.

Destroyer

(Cert 15, 121 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, Thriller/Drama/Romance, available from May 20 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from May 27 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99) Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Zach Villa, Bradley Whitford, Tatiana Maslany.

Ambitious, cocksure LAPD officer Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) goes undercover with handsome FBI agent Chris (Sebastian Stan) to infiltrate a gang of robbers. They pose as a couple and Chris ensures their chemistry is believable. "Kiss me," he orders Erin. "I don't want to look surprised the first time it happens in public." She follows orders with lip-smacking gusto. "You think you can fake liking that?" she smiles. "I think so," he smirks in return. Erin and Chris develop a fiery romantic relationship, which compromises the operation, and they agree to carry out the bank robbery orchestrated by gang leader Silas (Toby Kebbell) then flee with their cut. Seventeen years later, Erin - now a booze-soaked embarrassment to the force - receives a dye-stained 100 US dollar bill from that ill-fated heist. Destroyer is a gritty crime thriller about a tragically flawed Los Angeles police detective seeking redemption on the mean streets where she fell from grace. With its fragmented chronology punctuated by a couple of slickly executed bank robberies, Karyn Kusama's picture is a slog, slip-sliding inexorably into the depths of purgatory with a woman who knows that death is the only sure-fire release from self-imposed misery. You don't always get what you want, as the central characters knows to her chagrin, and consequently we are short-changed with supporting characters and a deeply satisfying resolution to the self-destruction. Buried beneath all that despair is chameleonic Oscar winner Kidman, who delivers a fearless and uncompromising performance that elevates and illuminates Kusama's uneven character study.

Woman's Way