You see a lot of fighting, and I mean a lot. Some of it's so shocking it literally does make you gasp, but that's probably my view from a woman's eyes that's making me do that. Even so, these characters are frightening. You really gain a sense of their life because the setting and the acting is done so well. There's no way you can't get caught up in the action or the plot line. It's perfect for this type of underground life that goes on.
Ben Drew (from Plan B) plays one of the most chaviest, cruelest, sexist men I've seen on screen so flawlessly that it almost made me believe he's like that in real life... Lets hope not. And bless Michael Caine (Harry Brown), he has let his age play a real factor for this role and makes him so vulnerable to the whole surroundings. Yet, he can still play that cool guy who gets to shoot lots of people. It's a very clever little device for his character. Plus, adding to these two extremely well played roles are all the extras playing the gangs. Especially the drug addicts, you could believe they had just been taken from a rehab centre; the detail is just immense. The police officers (Emily Mortimer playing D.I. Alice Frampton and Charlie Creed-Miles playing D.S. Terry Hicock) were a little weak compared to the delights happening in all the other people involved but it doesn't particularly let the film down. It just dominates the other characters which probably wasn't the point.
This isn't a film for the light-hearted. The dreaded 'C word' is used countless times, along with wife beating, drug abuse and sexual scenes that really aren't appealing (unless you're into that kind of sick messed up Two Girls One Cup stuff). But that does not ruin the film. These things are used in a way that seems right for the situation. It never becomes accepted though which is the beauty of it. It remains intense and horrible the whole way through. The way you view the locations and the people aren't in a stylised way, it's done so you dislike it.
This isn't a gangster film, nor is it an action film. It's a representation of a life rarely shown in such a realistic way. It's brutal but so captivating. It doesn't use gimmicks or special effects, it just films the reaction of the scene. And that's why British cinema is so great because it takes film and really shows you a picture. The only let down of this is that it can be a little slow, and this film is to start off with. But once you get about half an hour in there's no way you're going to turn it off.
So, I'd suggest not eating much during this and not letting this be a first date kind of film. Just appreciate the way it's taking the devices of a gangster/action film and bringing it to a whole new level.