What hagiographies such as this routinely forget to mention is that the ‘great man’ who lifts us ‘ordinary’ people from the depths of despair and saves the world from destruction is invariably one of the ‘great men’ who have put us all up that malodorous creek without a paddle in the first place. Don’t you think it’s time we gave the ‘great man’ myth the flick? The timing of this drawn-out, stodgy movie, coming so soon after last year’s magnificent Dunkirk and whimsical Their Finest, doesn’t do it any favours by comparison. The Nazis have trampled over Western Europe and Britain is at their mercy, it being only a matter of time before the Swastika is seen flying over Buckingham Palace. Appointed prime minister after Neville Chamberlain has been shown the door, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is presented as an irascible but soft-hearted old bloke who sucks on a big fat Cuban cigar 24/7 (he must have stunk). His brief was to keep the Hun at bay and history (which is always written by the winners) tells us that he single-handedly succeeded in doing that. At a time when all seemed lost, it was his rallying ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ speech that turned the tide of WWII, though whether his words were inspired by a ride to Westminster on the Tube with common Londoners is questionable – it is a mawkish scene, but stirring nonetheless. Likewise, it might not be totally accurate that Churchill’s resolve was inspired by the unquestioning affection shown him by his pretty personal secretary (Lily James), but who wants to think that the born-to-rule Tory was anything but a man-on-the-street at heart? More curious is Joe Wright’s casting Viscount Halifax (Stephen Dillane) as the villain in the piece because he was in favour of negotiating a peace with Hitler. Ill-advised and short-sighted Halifax’s view may have been, but it was surely not sinister? Oldman is as impressive as the massive PR blitz claims, and Ben Mendelsohn is surprisingly convincing as King George VI.