Michael Caine as Dirty Harry? Well, not quite. Caine’s (The Dark Knight) Harry is just a nice old bloke who lives in a terrible London council estate — we’d call it a project — where open drug-dealing and blatant intimidation and violence by hoodie-wearing teens approaches a Clockwork Orange level. Harry’s been coping with it by ignoring it as best he can… but when he loses his wife and his best friend within days of each other — one to illness, the other to an attack by the kids — Harry takes up his old ex-Marine ways and plans to take back his home. What starts out as a poignantly observed portrait of the bitter loneliness of old age — director Daniel Barber has a keen eye for making the isolation sneak up on you and sting — turns into one of the most grounded depictions of conflicted vigilantism cinema has seen, the burst of shocking violence somehow less unsettling than the helplessness of the police (Emily Mortimer [City Island] is very fine as a detective who crosses Harry’s path) and the open hostility and arrogance of the wrongdoers. It may all be exaggerated for effect, but it neverthless feels all too real.
How does this compare to “Gran Torino”? Sounds like the same movie, give or take.
It’s not at all the same movie. For one, it lacks the annoying over-the-top earnestness of *Gran Torino.*
My dad has a church on that estate, the whole place is now derelict except the church – films go there all the time. They used the church as a green room. The estate was never all that bad though.