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  M.   November 11, 2009

Sir Michael Caine, the actor, has called for a return to national service to give young people ”a sense of belonging rather than a sense of violence”.

As he walked the red carpet at the European premiere of his new movie Harry Brown, the British actor addressed the problem of violence among disaffected youths.

Sir Michael, who did two years of national service and served in the Korean War, stressed he was ”very anti-war” but added: ”I’m just saying put them in the army for six months. You’re there to learn how to defend your country. You belong to the country.

”Then when you come out, you have a sense of belonging rather than a sense of violence.”

In the film Caine plays a retired Marine who sets out to dispense vigilante justice after his best friend is murdered by a gang of thugs in a drug and gun-ridden London council estate.

Caine said the movie was ”almost documentary” in its portrayal and should serve as a ”wake-up call”.

He added: ”There should be a great plan to re-educate these youngsters. It’s such a waste. They all feel society has let them down.”

Director Daniel Barber said he spent a lot of time with the police while developing the film and was stunned by the picture they painted.

He said: ”It’s unbelievable the amount of violence out there that doesn’t get reported.

”What they have to deal with is something else. This film is the tip of the iceberg.”

Ben Drew, who plays one of the youths, said he tried to make his portrayal as realistic as possible.

He added that the prospect of working with Caine was what drew him to the movie.

”Being in a film alongside someone I think is a legend – I would have done it for free.”

Others on the red carpet included David Bradley and Joseph Gilgun, who both star in the film, boxer David Haye, actress Gemma Arterton, the band Spandau Ballet, EastEnders star Larry Lamb, his son George Lamb and ex-EastEnder Karl Tointon.