Reviews

Harry Brown

3

It’s Grandad Torino…

Dirtier than Clint Eastwood, with a death wish that even Charles Bronson might find a little excessive, Michael Caine is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Determined to bring some law and order to his South London estate, with its gun-toting gangs and drug-dealing addicts, his vigilante pensioner digs out an old army pistol and sets about washing the scum off the streets.

Director Daniel Barber would have us believe that Harry Brown is an urban Western, like Unforgiven with an ASBO. Don’t be fooled, however. Ultimately, this is a revenge fantasy plain and simple, with a conservative streak that’ll appeal to readers of certain daily tabloids.

At least the first half sees Barber striving for something more believable, less sensational; using long takes leeched of colour, he avoids glamourising the grime.

Still, the ace in the (sink)hole is Caine, unwavering in his commitment as the grieving widower pushed over the edge by his best friend’s slaying. Indeed, there’s a touch of Jack Carter’s hatchet-faced resolve to his geriatric avenger as he lays waste to every mugger, peddler and hoodie who crosses his path.

But by painting Harry’s quarry in broad brushstrokes, Barber – the Oscar-nominated director of 2007 short The Tonto Woman – tips his hand. From Sean Harris’ psychotic crackhead and Ben Drew’s swaggering thug downwards, Caine’s nemeses are all vicious, irredeemable delinquents, unworthy of even a licker of compassion.

In short, this isn’t a film with much time for the ethics of revenge, the ineffectiveness of Emily Mortimer’s well-meaning copper only providing further justification for Harry’s one-man mission.

Some might say that Caine’s presence is justification enough; after all, there can only be so many more times we’ll see the veteran star packing a firearm. It’s just a shame that, for all his screen-filling authority, his character ends up a little too trigger-happy for comfort.

Verdict:

The hero might be Brown, but Harry is black and white in its treatment of inner-city blight. When all the bullets are spent you’re left with the dubious aftertaste of exploitation, but Sir Michael’s charisma keeps you watching.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • Lingdada

      Nov 6th 2009, 11:09

      5

      I was lucky enough to see a film preview of Michael Caines' 'swansong' movie,Harry Brown! It is one of his finest performances in a Brit movie that despite it being its unrelentingly bleak council estate urban setting, is stupendously shot,totally convincing acting from every character and a masterpiece! Watch it,be shocked and be a different person when you leave the auditorium!!

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    • Rachie

      Nov 12th 2009, 15:36

      4

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    • Taraw

      Nov 14th 2009, 1:13

      4

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    • tommy6858

      Dec 5th 2009, 0:44

      5

      Best British Film of the year

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    • liamegan

      Dec 9th 2009, 12:56

      3

      All in all a good film; not bad, not great. But I found problems with how caricatured and distorted the Police and the ASBO's were, with Plan B knowing more about the law than the f*****g policewoman who I was actually hoping would die, for all her 'neediness' and 'goody-two-shoes' approach to the antagonists of the film, the as-close-to anarchist as possible gang. This film is nothing short of a Right-Wing orgy, where former soldiers of a pointless war are heralded for giving the beat-down on b*****d youths, never once coming close to addressing why such characteristics present themselves in people of shown age and location. A film that needed research is what we have. Harry Brown himself goes through NO character development; family and friends die "I'm sad now", then he looks at the kids "I'm angry now". Just because it took half the film until Michael Caine could pull out his naughty and nice list doesn't mean the character has progressed, I mean, we CAME to see Harry f**k s**t up in an oh-so-cool way. Worst of all for the film, at the end he's allowed to just carry on living in a peaceful world. Yeah, I forgot about that one, war DOES solve all answers. My bad, it's not like we've got thousands of years of history that proves otherwise. Gran Turino, it wishes. Also you may have noticed that I really wanted that Police b***h to die.

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