Will (★★ Empire review)

WillSquareThe spirit of the Children’s Television Workshop is alive, but not necessarily well, in this well-meaning but bungled tale of an 11-year-old Liverpool fan (Perry Eggleton, in an impressive debut) who runs away from his orphanage home and sets off across Europe to see his beloved team play in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul. Hoskins and Lewis are on the ball – and watch out for former ‘sinner from Pinner’ Jane March in a two-line cameo as a nun. But an undercooked script and uncertain direction, two own goals from first-timer Perry, turn a promising wish-fulfilment fantasy into a tragically squandered opportunity – like watching England’s club-footed efforts at the last World Cup. A third act sidetrack to Bosnia, in which a kid gets blown up by a landmine – you know, for kids! – adds to the distinctly oddball proceedings. By the final whistle, what might have been a wish fulfilment fantasy for pint-sized football fans looks like an England performance on penalties: painful to watch, and an embarrassment for all concerned.

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