Harry Brown (2009, Daniel Barber)

Opens with grainy shaky videocam footage of cussy drug addicts in an alley who then shoot a girl while on a hectic motorbike ride – meaningful cut to black with the words, in tiny print, “a film by daniel barber,” signaling that this will be an Important Film About Urban Problems (see also: the overbearing music throughout). That’s how Michael Caine treated it in interviews also. Normally Caine wouldn’t be into this sort of grimy personal revenge story of course, but this is an Important Work on a Meaningful Topic, not just some action catharsis. And some viewers even treated it that way – it won a couple of best-film awards – but me, I wanted some action catharsis and found that the movie delivered that well.

Also: Emily Mortimer plays a cop:

MC’s violent spree kicks off (after he has Lost Everything He Had, of course) with a parody scene of extreme urban decay. Caine visits an illegal dealer who sells him a gun while shooting up heroin into his leg while firing a pistol and smoking crack out the barrel while growing pot in his basement while sexually exploiting a young girl while threatening his partner and swearing up a storm and playing loud electro music. Predictably, that scene doesn’t end well, with Caine killing the dudes, taking the guns and burning the whole fucking place, which explodes behind him as he drives the girl to safety. There’s a long action-movie history of vigilante violence by One Man With Nothing Left To Lose Who Couldn’t Take It Anymore, and I don’t see why Sir Michael and crew have to deny that proud tradition and fake like they’re making some documentary expose about the streets, especially when their baddies are so cartoonishly evil. They could do with a few viewings of The Wire. Or hell, maybe street life is really this shitty in England – if so, I’ll take Baltimore any day.