Harry Brown
(2009)

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Directed:                 Daniel Barber
Screenplay:             
Gary Young                        
Produced:               Matthew Vaughn
                                 Kris Thykier
                                 Matthew Brown
                                 Keith Bell
Cinematography:  Martin Ruhe

 

 

 

Most 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.

You 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.

It’s 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.

The 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                           

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Harry Brown