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Published: 12 November 2009
Michael Caine takes to the streets as militant pensioner Harry Brown
Michael Caine takes to the streets as militant pensioner Harry Brown
Also on release this week

Directed by Daniel Barber
Certificate 18

AS the trick or treat and firework season plays out its last annoying moments and the collective leave of sense many young people seem to take in these two magic autumnal weeks wears off, Harry Brown may give older people some rather bad ideas.
Michael Caine is the pensioner who is so exasperated by his own particular corner of ”broken Britain” he decides to do something about it, involving big guns.
There is no inkling in the opening scenes of what a monster he could become. A former soldier, he spends his days playing chess with ­fellow old-timer Len (David Bradley) and visiting his wife in hospital.
But when Len is killed, Brown has had enough. Things take a turn from being a stab at social realism (although the faceless hoodies and the estate are so unpleasant it is a little too caricatured) into something that is more akin to a Charles Bronson flick.
Harry comes up against gangster Stretch (Sean ­Harris), the figurehead for a group of young men, dealing drugs, waving guns about and generally having a wild time. He decides enough is enough and launches himself on a one-man mission to “clean up” his area.
It flips between some genuinely interesting ­comment helped by an intense performance by Caine, to a quite grotesque conclusion that using ­violence against violence is the most effective answer.
This immature premise undermines what is otherwise a well made and ­watchable tale.

Directed by Roland Emmerich
Certificate 12a

BIG effects are the scene ­staples of this disaster movie. Forget the dialogue, it’s watching postcard images of the world’s most recognisable buildings being heaved up into the air that makes up most of 2012.
It’s the Olympic year, but instead of celebrating our haul in a variety of sports no one with a life pays any attention to, the world is rather unfortunately about to come to an end (at least that means we’ll not have to watch the opening ­ceremony).
Apparently it’s all been ­predicted by a Mayan calendar: volcanoes go ping, tectonic plates have a wobble, and tsunamis crash through cities. We watch as a variety of ­landmarks get the matchstick model treatment: see the Christ statue in Rio topple! Watch the White House blow up! View the Vatican crumble to dust!
Unlike in the real world, as we are about to see in Copenhagen, national governments are taking this threat extremely seriously, and have commandeered a whole load of giant ships à la Noah’s Ark to keep the chosen few safe. But who has been chosen? And what about the rest? Such is the nuts and bolts of this visually impressive yet cliched disaster flick.
The cast includes John Cusack and Danny Glover, with Woody Harrelson popping up as a crazy eyed soothsayer who saw this coming from afar.

Directed by Mira Nair
Certificate PG

AMELIA Earhart was a house­hold name in the 1930s for her aviation records.
In this ­satis­factory bio-pic, Hilary Swank dons the fur-lined leathers as the aviatrix. We watch her struggle to be taken seriously, discover how her marriage helped her realise her dreams, and then sympathise as things take a dark turn as she falls for Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor).

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