Harry Brown

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(2009) ★★

Channel 5: Sunday 12 July, 10pm

Military training comes in handy when old codger Michael Caine stands up to a gang of scummy hoodies on a dingy South London towerblock estate. It’s instructive to compare this enthusiastically over-the-top vigilante melodrama – a bloodbath mix of Kidulthood and Last Orders – with Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, which broached a similar theme from an entirely different direction. Clint’s Walt Kowalski and Caine’s Harry Brown are both lonely recent widowers, surrounded by drug-dealing punks tattooed up to the eyeballs (nipple rings optional). Any similarity ends there. Gran Torino celebrates life and hope amid the fear and ignorance. Harry Brown simply has a Death Wish, happily wading in waist deep at a slaughterhouse that wouldn’t look out of place in the French District 13movies. You’d probably need to be in a pretty foul mood to derive much enjoyment from this derivative shoot-’em-up, with its cartoon Ali G thugs and comically ineffectual cops. Liam Nesson’s Taken was more enjoyable, and I didn’t believe a minute of that either.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 99min