J. Edgar Hoover is one of the 20th century’s most important men; as head of the FBI for 48-years he pioneered fingerprinting, tracked notorious gangsters and amassed enough information to blackmail US presidents.  Elsewhere, since graduating from four movies with Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio has been recognised as a matured acting talent, while Clint Eastwood is an Oscar-winning directing powerhouse of great depth.

Which makes J. Edgar’s epic failings so much harder to stomach. Eastwood fails to shed any real light on Hoover’s biography, jumping disjointedly between achievements without depth or elucidation. DiCaprio attempts to hold his own through the cakes of make-up, but even he can’t prevent several key scenes from descending into parody.

There’s simply no way to excuse the tailspin that Eastwood’s directional career has been in of late, this the weakest of a trio of turkeys that began with Invictus. We hate to say it, but the introduction of compulsory retirement in Hollywood seems increasingly appealing.