Set in the '30s, Beatty's film culls its villains - a gallery of grotesques with names like Pruneface, Flattop and The Brow - from the later '40s strips. As Tracy (Beatty) sets about foiling the plans of Big Boy and The Blank to take over the city, Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) introduces emotional conflict for the careerist detective, whose long-standing relationship with Tess Trueheart (Headly) is going nowhere fast. Beatty has rejected 'psychology and behaviour' (read complexity) in characterisation; this is old-fashioned, clearly defined morality, with literally no shades of grey (the use of colour is wonderfully imaginative and carefully modulated). Pleasing restraint is evident in the way Beatty allows his character to be outshone by his adversaries. As mobster Big Boy, a brash thug fond of misquoting Lincoln, Nietzsche and Plato, Pacino is virtually unrecognisable and hugely enjoyable; and Madonna gives confident renditions of the Stephen Sondheim numbers. A spectacular movie whose technical achievements - notably the sharp editing - will surely provide a gauge by which subsequent comic strip films are judged.