MINDHORN (15, 89 mins) Comedy/Action/Romance. Julian Barratt, Andrea Riseborough, Russell Tovey, Essie Davis, Simon Farnaby, Steve Coogan, David Schofield, Harriet Walter. Director: Sean Foley.

Released: May 5 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Seeing the truth is easy when you have robotic vision in director Sean Foley's loopy lark based around a fictitious 1980s TV detective show - catchphrase "It's truth time!" - best described as The Six Million Dollar Man meets Bergerac on the Isle of Man.

Scripted by actors Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, who nab two of the showiest roles, Mindhorn hits more targets than it misses with its delightfully daft cocktail of spoof, slapstick and whodunnit.

The search for a hospital outpatient, who is suspected of murder, quickly takes a back seat to the pratfalls including flashes of old-fashioned physical humour like the lead actor chasing after a suspect and awkwardly clambering over a garden gate as it swings open beneath him.

Extended cameos from Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow, gleefully poking fun at their theatrical luvviness, deliver hearty laughs as the titular sleuth goes to squirm-inducing lengths to regain his poster boy status, albeit with a pot belly and a hairline that has receded down his back.

In the late 1980s, actor Richard Thorncroft (Barratt) set a nation's heart aflutter as Mindhorn, who could literally "see the truth" using his one robotic eye.

Twenty-five years later, fame has cruelly deserted him.

Richard is overweight, gloriously self-deluded and has to beg his long-suffering agent (Harriet Walter) for unedifying work.

Out of the blue, she offers him a chance at redemption: return to the Isle of Man, where the TV series was filmed, to assist Chief Inspector Derek Newsome (David Schofield) in apprehending suspected serial killer, Paul Melly (Russell Tovey).

Melly is a deluded fan of the TV series and tells police he will "only speak to Inspector Mindhorn or more people are going to die!"

Consequently, Richard travels to his former stomping ground to work closely alongside DC Baines (Andrea Riseborough) on the high-profile case.

"Stay in character at all times," she reminds Richard.

"When I go in, I go deep," he counters saucily.

Employing every acting muscle, Richard revives his alter ego, while stoking the embers of romance with former co-star Patricia Deville (Essie Davis), trading barbs with former series stunt man Clive Parnevik (Farnaby) and coveting the outrageous good fortune of former Mindhorn sidekick, Peter Eastman (Steve Coogan).

Filmed on location on the Isle of Man, Mindhorn is a potty-mouthed escape from dreary reality that pickpockets chuckles and the occasional snort of derision as the cast surrender to the script's lunacy.

Barratt is clearly having a ball as a fallen star, who couldn't care less about the death of an innocent girl until he has his morning Americano with hot milk.

Farnaby is equally goofy and their script contrives a ramshackle murder mystery that might pass muster on Midsomer Murders, with a considerably higher body count.


A DOG'S PURPOSE (PG, 100 mins) Drama/Romance. KJ Apa, Britt Robertson, Bryce Gheisar, Juliet Rylance, Luke Kirby, Dennis Quaid, John Ortiz, Kirby Howell-Baptiste and the voice of Josh Gad. Director: Lasse Hallstrom.

Released: May 5 (UK & Ireland)

Love never dies, nor does the four-legged hero of Lasse Hallstrom's emotionally manipulative family drama.

Based on the novel by W Bruce Cameron, A Dog's Purpose bounds through decades of American history, tightly leashed to a sentimental mutt (voiced by Josh Gad), who is reincarnated as different breeds, but never forgets the smell of his first owner.

"Are we here for a reason? Is there a point to any of this?" the pooch wonders aloud.

The point to Hallstrom's picture is to traumatise dog-loving audiences and the Oscar-nominated Swedish filmmaker encourages a deluge of saltwater tears with repetitive scenes of man's best friend saying farewell to distraught owners.

Gad's soothing omnipresent voiceover, which is less excitable than his scene-stealing turn as singing snowman Olaf in Frozen, underscores the sobs with gentle humour.

"That was the worst shot I ever got," he quips after one dog takes a bullet protecting his master from harm.

The imbalance in running time devoted to different sets of humans keeps most of the characters at arm's length and there is a gnawing predictability to the film's dewy-eyed final destination.

Golden retriever Bailey (voiced by Gad) has a brief first life in the 1950s - he is captured by men from the local dog pound and put to sleep.

In his second incarnation in 1961, he is rescued from a dangerously hot truck by eight-year old Ethan Montgomery (Bryce Gheisar) and his mother Elizabeth (Juliet Rylance).

They persuade Elizabeth's hard-drinking husband Jim (Luke Kirby) to keep Bailey and Ethan enthusiastically trains the dog, mastering an acrobatic trick with an American football.

Ethan blossoms into a strapping high school senior (now played by KJ Apa) and falls head over heels in love with classmate Hannah (Britt Robertson).

They date with Bailey as an enthusiastic chaperone.

A near fatal incident at the family home changes the course of Ethan's life and he is forced to say farewell to Bailey.

In subsequent incarnations, Bailey is a German Shepherd called Ellie and partners lonely Chicago police officer Carlos Ruiz (John Ortiz), and a Corgi called Tino, who facilitates a love match for Atlanta college student Maya (Kirby Howell-Baptiste).

Fate eventually reunites Bailey - now a Saint Bernard - with Ethan (Dennis Quaid) but the master is a world-weary shadow of his former self.

A Dog's Purpose barks a familiar tune, with a couple of daring rescues that would have made Lassie wag her tail with pride.

Scenes of animal cruelty are inferred within the bounds of a PG certificate, while Gad's silky vocal performance trots a thin line between mawkish and amusing.

"Why did I eat so many meat logs?" he laments after one animal wolfs down copious hot dogs.

Audiences may be more reluctant to swallow Hallstrom's sugary film.


SLEEPLESS (15, 95 mins) Thriller/Action/Romance. Jamie Foxx, Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, Scoot McNairy, David Harbour, Octavius J Johnson, Tip "T.I." Harris, Gabrielle Union. Director: Baran Bo Odar.

Released: May 5 (UK & Ireland)

Shapeless, Soulless, Spineless and Senseless would be more fitting titles for director Baran Bo Odar's lumbering remake of the 2011 French-language thriller, Nuit Blanche.

Transplanting the breathless cat and mouse from the outskirts of Paris to the twinkling lights of Las Vegas, Sleepless bets heavily on frenetic action and implausible plotting, and loses everything - including our patience - in a tiresome finale riddled with double and triple-crosses.

While the original film was relatively low budget and benefitted from a leading man, who performed his own stunts to heighten tension, Bo Odar's lacklustre revamp parachutes in a starry Hollywood cast including Oscar winner Jamie Foxx.

Close-ups of his sweat-beaded brow hope to convince us that the stakes are high while German composer Michael Kamm cranks up the volume on a relentlessly unsettling score, which would be better suited to a gore-slathered slasher than a serpentine crime thriller.

Andrea Berloff's script trips itself up with laughable lapses in logic: the traitorous cop, who leaves an incriminating voicemail that blows his cover; the mother with freshly spilt blood glistening on her hands, who tenderly touches the face of her son and, miraculously, fails to transfer a single drop of rhesus positive.

Sweet dreams aren't made of this.

Las Vegas Police Department homicide detectives Vincent Downs (Foxx) and Sean Cass (Tip "T.I." Harris) don masks and brandish government-issue weapons to steal a shipment of drugs.

Their haul is 25 kilos of cocaine "worth seven or eight million on the streets".

The next day, knife-wielding thugs kidnap Vincent's teenage son, Thomas (Octavius J Johnson), en route to football practice.

Shady casino owner Stanley Rubino (Dermot Mulroney) telephones the distraught father and explains he is holding Thomas to ransom: the missing white powder in exchange for the boy's life.

It transpires that Rubino needs the cocaine as part of a business deal with sadistic gangster Rob Novak (Scoot McNairy).

"If I can't deliver, I'll give him your son instead," Rubino coldly informs Vincent.

The cop races against the clock to personally courier the drugs to the Luxus casino, whilst concealing Thomas' abduction from his suspicious ex-wife, Dena (Gabrielle Union).

Meanwhile, tenacious Internal Affairs officer Jennifer Bryant (Michelle Monaghan) and her partner Doug (David Harbour) are shadowing Vincent, and intend to catch him red-handed.

Sleepless is a yawn, beginning with a pedestrian car chase on curiously empty city streets.

Foxx mumbles lifeless dialogue as if in a daze and fails to generate on-screen chemistry with any of his co-stars, including Johnson's two-dimensional son.

Monaghan caterwauls her ballsy character's frustrations - we know how she feels - while Union is surplus to requirements yet, hilariously, she manages to insert herself into the film's centrepiece shootout.

"This is nuts!" observes an Internal Affairs officer.

It's a fair cop.


UNLOCKED (15, 98 mins) Thriller/Action. Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich, Toni Collette, Aymen Hamdouchi, Makram Khoury. Director: Michael Apted.

Released: May 5 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Real-life terror plots and heightened security in London provide an unsettling jolt of adrenaline to director Michael Apted's flat-footed espionage thriller, which charts a race against time to avert a biological weapon attack on the capital.

Scripted at a pedestrian pace by Peter O'Brien, Unlocked squanders an Oscar-calibre cast including Michael Douglas, John Malkovich and Toni Collette, and provides talented Swedish actress Noomi Rapace with another thankless lead role that pales next to her scintillating turn as avenging angel Lisbeth Salander in the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its sequels.

Those mesmerising performances showcased an actor with the rare ability to plumb the darkest depths of a tortured character's soul.

Here, Rapace merely sprints, shoots, takes calls on her mobile 'phone with a furrowed brow, and keeps a straight face when one of her co-stars almost ruins a stakeout at a Moroccan restaurant by gushing, "I love a tagine!"

An electronic timer, ticking down to doomsday, should provide Apted's picture with sufficient dramatic tension to overcome sloppy plotting including one brief scene that wouldn't logically happen as portrayed on screen and therefore announces itself as an act of deception on the part of screenwriter O'Brien.

Skilled CIA interrogator Alice Racine (Rapace) retired from active duty after she failed to break down a suspect in time to avert carnage on the boulevards of Paris.

Four years later, she is a caseworker in London, concerned with benefits not bombs.

Unexpectedly, Bob Hunter (Malkovich), the CIA's Director of European Operations, ushers Alice back into action under her old handler, Eric Lasch (Douglas), in order to interrogate a young man called Lateef (Aymen Hamdouchi), who is believed to be a courier for Imam Yazid Khaleel (Makram Khoury).

Authorities fear Lateef has been given a coded message that will trigger the release of a deadly virus on an American target in the UK.

"Let the past go or it's going to get in the way when it counts," Eric warns his protegee as she atones for mistakes in Paris by breaking Lateef's resolve.

In the process of carrying out her duties, Alice stumbles upon a deadly conspiracy that exposes moles in the CIA's covert operations.

Unsure who to trust, Alice turns to ballsy MI5 agent Emily Knowles (Collette), Iraq war veteran Jack Alcott (Orlando Bloom) and a local lad called Amjad (Tosin Cole) to unmask the traitors.

Unlocked is a humdrum spy caper that polishes mediocre material to a dull sheen thanks to the sterling work of Rapace and co, including Collette rocking a blond crop.

Bloom delivers a wooden performance and an accent that he would probably rather forget.

Action sequences are competent, but like everything else in Apted's picture, fail to get our hearts or minds racing.