Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, creators of the BBC series, are co-writers/directors here, although the material is a little more hefty.
David Tennant and Rosamund Pike, a couple whose marriage is on the rocks, take a road trip to Scotland with their three children to visit his father. Billy Connolly plays grandpa who, due to terminal illness, is about to celebrate his 75th and last birthday.
Mum and Dad pack their youngsters (Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and the hilarious little Harriet Turnbull) into the car and on arriving at the family gathering put on a show of togetherness, despite separation and impending divorce.
They try to conceal their marital strife to avoid spoiling the occasion, but have to contend with the kids giving away all their secrets.
This leads to many laugh-out-loud scenes before the film’s tone changes when grandpa takes the children to the beach.
There’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy that is all the more poignant seen through innocent eyes, and this film, co-starring Ben Miller and Celia Imrie, is a delight.
> THE EQUALIZER (15: Sony) is a slick reboot of the hit 1980s TV show in which British actor Edward Woodward played Robert McCall, the retired agent-turned-good Samaritan who equalised the odds for ordinary citizens beset by bad guys.
Denzel Washington is now guardian angel to the meek and menaced. Or is he?
Washington initially appears to be just an ordinary blue collar worker earning a crust at a DIY centre. But when he befriends a young hooker (Chloë Grace Moretz) in thrall to a fearsome Russian syndicate, his true identity emerges and a destructive war of attrition ensues.
McCall is ultra-resourceful, lethally efficient and pretty much indestructible (like Liam Neeson in the Taken films) as he uses his “particular set of skills” to take on the baddies. His day job is a plus, too, as barbed wire, power drills and rivet guns are quite handy when pursued by merciless mercenaries.
The whole thing is ludicrous, of course, yet Washington has the charisma and mobility (unlike the portlier Woodward) to keep total disbelief from the door.
> Talking of Liam Neeson, he continues his craggy hero guise in moody, misjudged crime thriller A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (15: Entertainment One).
Neeson, looking more fed up and delivering less conviction than ever, plays a former police officer with a chequered, alcoholic past who becomes a reluctant player in a dangerous game as a favour to an addict friend.
Investigating the murder of the wife of a drug dealer (Dan Stevens), he finds out that she wasn’t the first to die and won’t be the last. It’s a grim world where the female characters are portrayed as victims, and the violence against them is all the more discomforting for being so insensitively handled.
This film is wearyingly unoriginal and the preposterously pulpy dialogue is likely to raise titters.
A fair amount of unintentional amusement aside, there’s little here to enjoy.