WHEN Gretchen Carlson slaps Fox News founder Roger Ailes with a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, not a soul could predict what would happen next.

Such is the juicy and effortlessly topical, premise of Bombshell, the new drama hit from Austin Powers and Trumbo director Jay Roach. A biographical retelling of the real lawsuit filed by no fewer than 23 women against real world Fox News executive Roger Ailes in 2016.

Fresh from one final cameo in Netflix’s The Crown, John Lithgow plays Ailes, a slimy character by all accounts, with Nicole Kidman as Carlson. While Charlize Theron co-leads as real Fox News host Megyn Kelly, Margot Robbie’s ingenue producer Kayla Pospisil is a fictional addition.

Rounding off a dream cast, Alison Janney features too as Ailes’ legal counsel Susan Estrich, Kate McKinnon as Jess Carr and Malcom McDowell as none other than Rupert Murdoch.

A cast to die for doesn’t always guarantee success - just look at Cats - but, in the case of Bombshell, it certainly helps. All bring their A game to a film very much in tune with the contemporary dialogues plaguing the entertainment industry.

Screenwriter Charles Randolph draws his most painful scenes, such as that in which Ailes insists on his staff twirling before him, from a murky reality, with many of those depicted claiming their boss to have been even more abusive than seen here.

Perhaps, then, the film falls short of full frontal attack. Further still, an entirely male writer-director partnership behind the scenes feels a tad misjudged. And yet, Bombshell hits the right notes and works as both meaningful parable and fun liberation romp. I suspect it will go down well with audiences even more so than critics.

Also for this week, Michael B Jordan fights the good fight in fellow biopic Just Mercy, from Hawaiian director Destin Daniel Cretton.

Jordan plays radical attorney Bryan Stephenson, with Jamie Foxx exceptional as Walter McMillan, the African-American man wrongfully imprisoned for the 1986 murder of a white woman in Alabama and thereafter sentenced to death.

This is compelling, emotionally raw storytelling from Cretton, adroitly shot and powerfully acted.