I went into a very dark room with a big screen down one end. On that screen they showed a film. And it was amazing.
Well, maybe not the film itself – though it was very very good. But just the experience, the pleasure of being back in a cinema, the joy of watching all-engrossing images at multiple life-size.
Cinema is one of life’s great delights – so much so that it’s difficult not to feel just a little bit nervous that it might get snatched away from us again sooner than we know it. But there’s no doubting the quality of Cineworld’s precautions. They are clearly doing everything they can. It’s great to have them back… and it is great to be back.
Particularly with a film as riveting as this one, an old-style thriller which is edge of the seat stuff – the tale of a 12-year-old boy in the direst peril and a severely traumatised firefighter possibly getting a chance of redemption.
Angelina Jolie is the forest firefighter, a bass-ass rebel still devastated by the three children whose lives she failed to save in a forest fire the year before when she failed to read the direction of the wind correctly. She’s – inevitably – a completely damaged mess.
And into her life wanders Connor, a boy whose forensic accountant dad has just been murdered by the baddies whose far-reaching web of corruption he had uncovered. Knowing that said forensic accountant almost certainly passed his secrets on to his son, the baddies are now hot on Connor’s trail and will clearly stop at nothing.
Which is when Connor falls on his feet. Jolie’s Hannah is determined to make amends. But it’s a dark and twisty 100 minutes that lie ahead. Jolie’s screen presence, indeed screen naturalness, is immense. It’s a great performance, mixing steel with damage, vulnerability with courage.
Maybe the real shock is that Nicholas Hoult, once so sweet in About A Boy many many years ago, is now quite so convincingly ghastly as one of the villains.
Put it all together and it’s a cracker of a film.
OK, so maybe the sheer thrill of being back in the cinema makes you perhaps a little more indulgent towards it than you might otherwise be.
But as a reminder of just how much a half decent film on a very big screen can stir and grip, it serves its purpose very very well indeed.