'The kids in the estate" - sounds kind of like a children's story.
Michael Caine, in the title role of Harry Brown, is talking about the thugs hanging around the council housing, the projects, where he lives. Running drugs and harassing neighbors, these punks have turned the government-subsidized high-rises in a drab corner of London into an urban nightmare.
And when Harry, recently widowed and all shut down inside, loses his best friend to the gangs he can see from his window, well, he takes matters into his own hands. Hands that are clutching some serious weaponry.
Gritty and compelling up to a point, but cheaply exploitive as well, Harry Brown (from director Daniel Barber and screenwriter Gary Young) offers a British take on the Death Wish series and other vigilante fantasies. There's no denying that the legal system and the police aren't getting the job done, but the film's "realism" only goes so far: When Harry ventures out to buy a gun to avenge his old pal's murder, the squalid warehouse he visits is a one-stop crime shop run by two bug-eyed, strung-out, tattooed caricatures. Heroin, marijuana, automatic weapons, porn, even Viagra is for sale here, if the blokes in charge can stay conscious long enough to carry out the transaction.