people will take one look at the premise of Daniel Barber’s “Harry
Brown” and immediately liken it to a British version of “Gran
Torino.” By the way I loved GT. The two films certainly share
a lot of similarities – both are about older men battling a gang
of young punks, and both star one of the greatest actors of their generation.
Where GT wins on direction, Harry wins on gritty realism, GT wins on
dialogue and Harry wins on portraying frailty.
wouldn’t think he was even capable of such violence when you first
meet Harry Brown (Caine), a Royal Marine veteran whose days consist
of meticulous visits to his sick wife in the hospital and playing chess
with his only friend, Leonard (David Bradley), at their favorite pub.
But when his wife passes away and Leonard is killed by some local street
thugs who had been harassing him for months, Harry finds himself all
alone in a town overrun by crime. After the police detectives (Mortimer
and Creed-Miles) assigned to Leonard’s murder fail to catch the
kids involved, Harry takes it upon himself to track down those responsible
and teach them a lesson to in how to treat your elders.
been a while since Sir Michael has played the part of the action star,
and while he’s not doing anything too physically demanding as
Harry Brown, it’s a nice throwback to his earlier films. He’s
like Jack Carter with a pension, and though he may seem harmless at
first, once Brown picks up a gun, he immediately becomes the most dangerous
man on the council estate! Only an actor like Caine could provide the
gravitas needed to sell such a potentially outlandish role, but once
you accept him as someone capable of committing such acts of violence,
it allows for some of the more darkly comical moments to exist without
coming off as parody. The actors playing the street youths have been
made up and dressed to seem as filthy and drug-addled as possible –
the arrested youth gang are allowed to play with a maximum degree of
venomous nastiness and harsh anti-authoritarianism during the interrogation
scenes, while Michael Caine’s venture into the drug den is lit
and set dressed to seem like a venture into a Hellish inferno.
police don’t come across well here, first there’s the compassionate
but ultimately useless DCI Frampton (Emily Mortimer). I really enjoyed
the screen portrayal of Frampton, although she's a police officer she
is played my Mortimer as frail and powerless, her interations with Harry
[especially in the early scenes] are exqusite. She works with the young
ambitious Hickcock (Charlie Creed-Miles) whose beat is the hell hole
estate Harry Brown shares with scum of the earth gangs, one of which
killed Leonard. Harry however has an inner steel, and thanks to his
Royal Marine training he sets about taking the law into his own hands.