Viewed – 08 May 2010 Blu-ray
Michael Caine is a British institution. Probably the most celebrated actor to come out of ol’ blighty, he has, over a long career been in some of the most iconic movies ever made and played some of the most memorable characters to ever grace the screen. Although these days I find it a shame he’s playing second fiddle to Christian Bale in the Batman franchise, at least it takes a British movie to put him back where he belongs.
Harry Brown is a retired ex-marine living out his remaining years on a crime infested housing estate overrun by thugs, with a high drugs & murder rate. Recently widowed, his only friend is an elderly man called Lennard, who himself is constantly in fear of his life from increasingly dangerous pranks. Before long though, Harry realises that the Police are not going to change things and he must take the law into his own hands, even if it gets him killed in the process. Caine is mesmerizing and believable as a man who has lost everything and faces up to the hoodie threat with vulnerability and convincing menace, obviously out of his depth and way past his prime, but with the willpower to take them on. Supporting him is a strong performance from Emily Mortimer as the Police Detective heading up the investigation who sympathises with Caine’s plight if not entirely condoning his actions. The cast members playing the hoodie thugs are less impressive, one-note scum bags with no real depth or personality, and I felt this was a missed opportunity to delve deeper into their lives and motives, and the remaining Police are portrayed as bumbling out-dated suits with little regard for public safety and more interest in ticking boxes and filing reports.
Daniel Barber’s movie has been compared to Clint Eastwood hit Gran Torino, but I feel this does both movies a disservice as they are about very different things, and although Harry Brown has a similar old man up against thugs premise, the violence and the rather sickening portrayal of sex and drugs, puts the movie in much darker territory than Eastwood’s on a whole heart-warming modern classic.
Overall though, this is a definite recommendation for both fans of Michael Cain and gritty Brit-thrillers.
Verdict: 4 /5