Streaming reviews: Sean Bean and Stephen Graham shine bright in bleak English crime drama Time

IN THE SLAMMER: Sean Bean and Stephen Graham star in English crime drama Time.
IN THE SLAMMER: Sean Bean and Stephen Graham star in English crime drama Time.

TIME

Binge

PRISONS have always made for intriguing drama. Wentworth, Prison Break, Orange Is The New Black, the list goes on.

Partly it's because jail represents a kind of hell on earth, but also we all naturally imagine how we'd survive in such a brutal environment. English crime drama, Time, explores the latter.

Actors Sean Bean and Stephen Graham could turn a Home & Away script into compelling television. So it's little surprise they both deliver brilliant performances.

Bean, best known for playing physically-imposing roles in Lord Of The Rings and Game Of Thrones, exposes his vulnerable side as a 50-something teacher Mark Cobden, who is incarcerated in a northern England prison.

Guilt-ridden and unaccustomed to the harsh realities of prison life, the polite and meek Cobden soon finds himself at the mercy of the more sinister inmates.

Bean plays the role in a wonderfully under-stated manner, allowing his wrinkled forehead and jowls to convey the sadness and fear he's experiencing in the frightfully foreign situation that involves a cell mate self-harming and later overdosing.

Meanwhile, Graham (Snatch, This Is England) plays jail warden Eric McNally, who faces the task of protecting Cobden, while also juggling to shield his own family and maintain his principles.

Fresh off his mesmerising performance as a tortured alcoholic in the series, The Virtues, Graham again delivers.

Liverpool-bred screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has perfectly captured the bleakness and fear of prison life and the dangerous culture at its heart.

It once seemed impossible that Bean could surpass his performance as the noble, yet tragically flawed, Ned Stark in season one of Game Of Thrones, but Mark Cobden could be the finest role of his career.

SISTERS: Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow.

SISTERS: Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow.

BLACK WIDOW

Disney+

SCARLETT Johansson's portrayal of Russian spy turned US defector Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, is among the most popular characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So it's long overdue that Black Widow has been given her own standalone story as the 24th movie of the seemingly never-ending franchise.

Set after 2016 film Captain America: Civil War, Black Widow explores Romanoff's backstory in a twisted kind of family story, that is if your family were Russian spies or trained assassins.

Central to the plot is the relationship between Romanoff and fellow Black Widow spy and younger sister-figure Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh). Both have suffered from the abuse and control of Russian general Dreykov (Ray Winstone) as children. They reunite and aim to destroy Dreykov, his army of black widows and frightening new villain Taskmaster.

As we've come to expect from a Marvel film, the action sequences are stunning. Especially the car chase through the photogenic streets of Budapest.

The second half of the film delves deeply into Romanoff's one-time spy family, and while it's meant to create emotional weight, in mainly drags Black Widow's momentum.

Black Widow is part of the premier access add-on for Disney+, meaning you'll need to fork out $35 on top of your regular subscription to watch the film. COVID restrictions pending, you could just watch the film at the cinemas, where the action sequences truly dazzle.