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Harry Brown

Michael Caine plays one pensioner you don't want to mess with

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The temptation surely must have been to title this gritty British film about a solid citizen-turned-vigilante "Death Wish U.K." Certainly, there are similarities between Daniel Barber's film and the 1974 Charles Bronson neo-classic. Harry Brown (Michael Caine) lives on a south London council estate dominated by violent youth gangs. When his buddy is beaten to death, Brown, a former Marine, becomes a creaky-boned one-man judge, jury and executioner. Nobody suspects the otherwise mild-mannered Mr. Brown, except one (underwritten) cop (Emily Mortimer). There's some good stuff in here: Aspects of the film trade on Britain's lauded 1960s social-problem kitchen-sink dramas; and Harry Brown does a fair job presenting the endemic malaise that makes such lawlessness the rule rather than the exception. (The original Death Wish riffed on New York City, then regarded as a failed city spiraling into inescapable violence.) There's also a great scene where the cops fruitlessly interview suspects. But while Caine and Mortimer bring some class to their roles, neither can escape the increasingly baroque nature of the narrative that ultimately makes the film feel more like typical over-indulgent crime dramas. Starts Fri., June 11. Manor

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