Young gangs strung out on heroin, recording beatings, rape and murder on their cell phones, terrorizing entire housing estates — this is the world that “Harry Brown,” the movie by Daniel Barber and the character played by Michael Caine, lives in. It’s also a world created out of a year’s worth of horror stories from Britain’s tabloid press, and Harry Brown is just the man — and a typical tabloid reader — to sort things out.
“Harry Brown” has not so much divided critics in Britain, but more made it difficult for liberal critics to like the film without siding with right-wing tabloids like the Daily Mail. But this isn’t Britain, and “Harry Brown” should be taken with as much seriousness as any other pulpy revenge film. Hollywood has dished up some vigilante flicks in recent years — Jodie Foster in “The Brave One” may be one with a higher profile — but the zeitgeist isn’t right for it. Over in Britain, it feels like 1974 all over again.