Harry Brown (18)

Film

Thrillers

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>2</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Tue Nov 10 2009

I ended up feeling a bit sorry for Michael Caine by the time this hateful vigilante flick set in modern-day London came to a close. Did the old boy know what he was getting into? The funny thing is that ‘Harry Brown’, bar a violent prologue, begins fairly soberly, even reflectively, as if the makers were thinking more of ‘All or Nothing’ than ‘Death Wish’. Harry (Caine, below) is a widower who shuffles around a crumbling housing estate with only fellow army vet Leonard (David Bradley) for company. But life changes when Leonard falls prey to the hoodies who linger in the local underpass. When distraught Harry gets short shrift from the police (badly written, and poorly played by Emily Mortimer and Charlie Creed-Miles), he decides to take the law into his own hands and drives this already wobbly wagon straight into hysterical genre territory. By now, all you can do is sigh, laugh and try not to get upset at the stupidity of it all.

Although it takes a while before ‘Harry Brown’ shows its true colours, there’a a vulgar whiff from the off: in the first seconds of this debut from director Daniel Barber (who, technically, shows a fair amount of talent) we watch grainy mobile footage of a kid on a scooter as he confronts a young mum and shoots her dead before he comes a cropper himself on the road. It’s horrible stuff, but there must be a good reason for it, surely?

As it turns out, this scene is a random first glimpse of a warped portrait of our city that’s straight out of the Daily Mail – a place where your granny might get shot, stabbed or battered at every turn. It’s also the first hint of the sick ideology of the film, in which ill-informed pessimism is bolstered by childish ideas of revenge. There’s always a punishment around the corner, not only to avenge bad behaviour but also to give the makers sneaky licence to indulge in violence. As narrative – and moral – maths go, this is a cooking of the books that sidesteps any smart commentary on real life.
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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Nov 13, 2009

Duration:

103 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

3.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:15
  • 4 star:11
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|54
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Liam

Starts reasonably enough, some poor acting aside (even Emily Mortimer is on autopilot) but descends into cliché and silliness on about the hour mark. I had to check to see if Guy Ritchie wasn't responsible for it. A waste of Caine and completely insane to mention it in the same sentence as Get Carter.

Deec

I really enjoyed this film. Loved Michael Caine. The film shows there are many groups in society who are "above the law" and many groups in society that the law feel are "above the law".

Are You Kidding ME

The "professional" review sucks. He says he felt sorry for Michael Caine blah blah blah. Whats a douche. The thugs are all great. The area is gross. I truly felt like I lived there and was glad I dont . The pompous british cops reminded are sickening. I watch this movie weekly. I love it.

Are You Kidding ME

The "professional" review sucks. He says he felt sorry for Michael Caine blah blah blah. Whats a douche. The thugs are all great. The area is gross. I truly felt like I lived there and was glad I dont . The pompous british cops reminded are sickening. I watch this movie weekly. I love it.

Thomas Noctor

I hate the 'this film is predictable' stance. So are true stories, what's your point? Excellent movie in which the cowards in hoods that only attack in numbers, get what they deserve! Caine is excellent, this is probably a bit too much for 'Transformer' fans, great gritty film, better than the funny 'Gran Torino'! Well worth a watch!

Thomas Noctor

I hate the 'this film is predictable' stance. So are true stories, what's your point? Excellent movie in which the cowards in hoods that only attack in numbers, get what they deserve! Caine is excellent, this is probably a bit too much for 'Transformer' fans, great gritty film, better than the funny 'Gran Torino'! Well worth a watch!

TommyBond

All in all a very good film - playing on fears and stereotypes and realities. Obviously slightly exagerated for film purposes (guns, while becoming more common on the streets, aren't that common -YET)but everyone who knows a part of town/estate like it will say they got it spot-on. For those that don't think it's a realistic portrayal then I am envious of the bubble wrapped world you must live in. Only downer for me was the two main coppers characters - Emily Mortimer looked like she was going to burst into tears at any moment and her partner had crappy dialogue (except for one memorable rant when they are alone in the police station - which was very funny AND captured the mood of what a lot of people think about hereditary criminal families)

John Cooper

The film is a valid and authentic examination of the London's dark underbelly. Though it paints a grim picture of life on council estates , eschewing the cosy world of chavdom in `Shameless`, it paints a picture of urban despair which is all to regconizable in Britain's inner-cities. The Time Out reviewer has obviously spent too long in the Wine Bars of Islington, where you're not going to see much in the way of teenage violence . whereas if you venture only a mile away in the concrete wasteland of the North Islington estates around North Rd ( where Ben Kinsella was stabbed to death ) it's a different story . . . .I don't agree that films should have moral themes reflecting the ideology of the left-wing intelligentsia who manage to keep themselves at a safe distance from the violent thuggery which teachers, policemen and social workers come across every day. . . . . The film doesn't recommend vigilante violence as an alternative to ASBOs . . . .it's more subtle than that . . .. It's also gripping and entertaining . . Recommended.

Mike

As a General Practitioner working in some of the most deprived areas of the country, the so called "hysterical vignette of a nu-Britain that only exists in the pages of the Daily Mail" is unfortunately not strictly accurate anymore. We are increasingly seeing evidence true to the central theme of this film - as unpleasant as it may be to accept. I have heard countless stories of the elderly made hostage in their own homes. I think there is more of an issue here than some may recognise - however I understand that our affluence often protects us from some social realities.

SamWise

Caine just about holds this together, but there's some serious pasting over of a very weak script with wanton gore and OTT violence. It ends up being a very poor film for me. And I'm sorry, but I've seen more believable police acting on The Bill. Starts quite promisingly (if a little bleak) but ends up being completely absurd. I can't understand all the glowing reviews for this, we must have been watching different films (unless your idea of a good film is a pointless council estate voilence-orgy)

Luke

A solid performance from Caine does little to help the weak script and one dimensional characters. I'm surpised at reviewers who seem to think this film is unique and original, it has all been done before. This said, there are some moments when the gang culture depicted seems quite realistic, but the use of guns is very exaggerated. It isn't LA, and guns are still few and far between in comparison. Overall the film is full of cliches and cringingly bad dialogue ( especially from the two police officers) If this is the best British film in years, then we should worry.

ollie b

sometimes i think critics get too caught up in the picking faults in films and forget that films are meant to be enjoyed. this is a fairly original and enjoyable film

Mark

Anyone who has seen interviews with Caine, will know that he understood exactly what he was 'getting into'. This movie is a raw and thoughtful warning of the direction we are heading in our inner cities, showing the challenges for law and order battling the legacy of grotesquely demeaning living spaces and the anger and helplessness of the young with nowhere to go. Great soundtrack; brilliant performances from fresh young actors; Sean Harris (Stretch - dealer) especially gives a memorably chilling performance... Watch it, enjoy and ponder!

Mark

Anyone who has seen interviews with Caine, will know that he understood exactly what he was 'getting into'. This movie is a raw and thoughtful warning of the direction we are heading in our inner cities, showing the challenges for law and order battling the legacy of grotesquely demeaning living spaces and the anger and helplessness of the young with nowhere to go. Great soundtrack; brilliant performances from fresh young actors; Sean Harris (Stretch - dealer) especially gives a memorably chilling performance... Watch it, enjoy and ponder!

Dan in enfield

Watched harry brown last night and it made a lot if memories come back such as my brothers friend Paul erahon getting stabbed to death just because the other lad was bored. I was involved in gangs and fair enough the whole gun toting thing is exagerated but only slightly in the fact that everone seemed to have one like Romeo and Juliet. I've seen shootings, stabbings and extreme violence. What no one mentions on these reviews is the connection between sid and Noel and how sid is the main reason everything goin to pot because he is using the young ones to do his dirty work. I dare anyone who reads this to go to catt hall underpass in a Friday night and not wish they had a weapon. I used to be a part of this culture and spent three years in prison for knife crimes. If anybody comes on here and slates someone that's Trying to improve themselves is an idiot because that why a lot of kids don't try, because people hold stereotypes about them being stupid. Before I went to prison I gained a BTEC national in sports sciences with distinction but didn't know to do with it. The portrayal of gang culture is spot on and when the estate blows up in the end is probably what wiuld happen if you tried doin mass arrests at beumont estate in leyton. If your a carrot munchin idiot writing reviews on a subject you have no experience in ur a mug. I couldn't comment on the realism of a political drama because I have no knowledge of it so you shouldn't comment on it untill you move into an estate and get attacked, then you will see the realism behind the cinematography.

Dan in enfield

Watched harry brown last night and it made a lot if memories come back such as my brothers friend Paul erahon getting stabbed to death just because the other lad was bored. I was involved in gangs and fair enough the whole gun toting thing is exagerated but only slightly in the fact that everone seemed to have one like Romeo and Juliet. I've seen shootings, stabbings and extreme violence. What no one mentions on these reviews is the connection between sid and Noel and how sid is the main reason everything goin to pot because he is using the young ones to do his dirty work. I dare anyone who reads this to go to catt hall underpass in a Friday night and not wish they had a weapon. I used to be a part of this culture and spent three years in prison for knife crimes. If anybody comes on here and slates someone that's Trying to improve themselves is an idiot because that why a lot of kids don't try, because people hold stereotypes about them being stupid. Before I went to prison I gained a BTEC national in sports sciences with distinction but didn't know to do with it. The portrayal of gang culture is spot on and when the estate blows up in the end is probably what wiuld happen if you tried doin mass arrests at beumont estate in leyton. If your a carrot munchin idiot writing reviews on a subject you have no experience in ur a mug. I couldn't comment on the realism of a political drama because I have no knowledge of it so you shouldn't comment on it untill you move into an estate and get attacked, then you will see the realism behind the cinematography.

tom

was one of the best films ive seen. being a 19 i know exactly what its like out there and to get targeted by other youths nothing to this level i must admit , but what this film portrays is what life is actually like in these dog eat dog estates .you come away feeling just as sorry for the youths as you do harry. if you dont like the truth and think the world ot side your door is all rainbows dont watch it cause you will be sadly given teh real picture

tom

was one of the best films ive seen. being a 19 i know exactly what its like out there and to get targeted by other youths nothing to this level i must admit , but what this film portrays is what life is actually like in these dog eat dog estates .you come away feeling just as sorry for the youths as you do harry. if you dont like the truth and think the world ot side your door is all rainbows dont watch it cause you will be sadly given teh real picture

Will

I have to say, i'm a little astonished that people are defending this film with such gusto. While watching this "best british flick" I found myself slipping into the kind of glassy-eyed atrophy with which a grown adult might enjoy 'Madagascar II'. The script was dull and predictable; as was the narrative. It had very little to say that was new and relied entirely on its depression and gore to carry it though. As I see it, the vast majority of contemporary cinema at least ends on an engineered high-note so as soon as we are given a film that maintains a depressing note it is jumped on and applauded far beyond what it deserves. As I said, people have been duped into thinking that this is a uniquely insightful piece of artwork simply due to the tragic note it adopts from the first. Having said that I agree that technically it is superb and, bar the female policewoman, the acting is beyond reproach (well, as far as the script allows). However, I suppose I have confessed I did enjoy it with a “glassy-eyed atrophy� so, if you have a few hours to kill and no qualms about blood then by all means give it a punt. On another note, I wonder, would anyone agree with me that it is a slightly better executed version of that gorefest starring danny dyre? I think it was called “straight heads�. While watching this "best british flick" I found myself slipping into the glassy-eyed atrophy with which a grown adult may enjoy 'Madagascar II'. It had very little to say that was new and relied entirely on its depression and gore to carry it though. The so

JoeyB

I feel that the film's take on violence in modern society was purposely an exaggeration. Desensitisation is a leading factor in youth crime, and I can see how this film portrays a teenager's view of violence as entertainment - It's becoming more of a reality each day. So admittedly the film isn't for the faint of hearted, however I feel that the gory scenes were necessary to emphasise that Harry Day still has part of him that fights for his moral obligations, to overcome his frail exterior and bring back his mentality from his former marine career. Some of the best acting I've seen in the British film industry, particularly on behalf of the yobs who make you hate, and Caine who makes you emphasise with his character. I'm apologetic to the reviewer who obviously wallows in the comfort of his bubble, I've seen horrific knife crime in England... but it obviously it only exists in the Daily Mail. Capital.

donfelipe

Technically gorgeous, but morally and emotionally bankrupt. A hateful, hysterical vignette of a nu-Britain that only exists in the pages of the Daily Mail. If you listen carefully you can hear the sound of David Cameron masturbating onto a speech card.

Charlotte

Amazing film, im only 18 and found it very thoughtful and interesting. Michael Caine's performance is outstanding. He deserves rewards for this, Some of these reviews are negative, maybe these people are simple to thick to understand the film ans just cant regconise brilliance, i would say its a must see film and is suitable for everyone, to get an insight into these situations. EXCELLENT =]

Charlotte

Amazing film, im only 18 and found it very thoughtful and interesting. Michael Caine's performance is outstanding. He deserves rewards for this, Some of these reviews are negative, maybe these people are simple to thick to understand the film ans just cant regconise brilliance, i would say its a must see film and is suitable for everyone, to get an insight into these situations. EXCELLENT =]

caroline

I have seen a bad film in the cinema before - but never have I had to leave before it's finnished. Harry Brown was the grittiest and most off putting film i have ever seen. I understand we all have different taste in movies, some like them violent and some don't. But there was no purpose for this, the director obviously wanted to make a film that creates a reaction and debate which fair enough. But to watch a junkie inject heroin into an unconcious girl's arm and sexually abuse her is nothing that i am interested in witnessing. I like to be able to sleep at night. Worst money spent ever.

Paul - SW11

I went to see this film having enjoyed Michael Caine in Anybody There where he played another character near the end of his life, I would recommend that film to anyone who missed it first time round. HB was a competent formula revenge film treading no new ground but good entertainment and a promo for Elehpant & Castle. Think Fish Tank with guns and one dimensional characters. I particularly liked the scene when Harry buys his gun from a menacing Kurtz/Manson like character. Not a film to analyse too much, more one to eat popcorn to for a good night of classical revenge, British style.

Sara

A good gritty film abeit not a feel-good. Emily Mortimer's part was a bit unfinished, wonder if was through the act of editing as at the start, there seemed to be a story imerging about her character but the movie never really got around to telling it. Didn't really matter as the rest was thoroughly engaging. TimeOut's review a bit fierce - not all audience members are daily mail readers and take movie content as gospel when referencing them to real-life! (I hope!) Commentary is commentary and doesn't need to be super highbrow to be interesting and tell a good story which this film does. It's entertaining and voices opinions that folk clearly have, however skewed they might be. Be grateful for a uncomplicated plot, lots of good dialogue and an excellent cast. Worth seeing.

usman khawaja

THIS IS MY REVIEW OF THE MOVIE I SENT TO NYT -REDERS REVIEWS AND THEY HAVE PUT IT ON THE SITE TODAY -I KNOE DAVE WILL NOT MIND IF I SHARE IT HERE TOO -GET CARTER GETS GOING IN A TRIUMPHANT MOOD -Administering divine justice is a sordid but spellbinding business as senseless murder is the worst crime humanity can indulge in and this is rampant in our life and streets from glasgow to guildhall ,where arm and drug dealers use gangs of youngsters as foot soldiers with the oft obtained permission of the effete law enforcers who are semi corrupt and the rest are incompetent morons without a clue of the law they are trained to enforce . Daniel barber in his morosely lit DEBUT ,with frames that at times are simply wistfully poetic in intensity ,has designed a mellow shocker set in the inner council states of my beloved london ,showing every vice and injustice that prevails without sermonising and he has a picture perfect micheal caine to deliver his powerful and true message ,the screen gets filled with frustrated rage at the miscreants ,but in a controlled rage where BARBER has elicited a NATURAL ACT FROM SIR Michael caine ,who is an honest retired marine pensioner ,whiling time AWAY playing chess with his mate ,until the pal ends up carved like a turkey in the council subway by some young thugs. Michael is initially heartbroken but as the police case evolves he gets convinced the case will not even be prosecuted,AND accidentally one night after a drink he is assaulted by one of the suspects and ends up killing him in self defence ,but this opens the gates of justice and he starts to observe the seedy characters who are worst than vermin,his final decision to buy firearms on black market is logical and harrowing as he enters the nightmarish hovel of drugs and illicit ammunition and that sequence alone is nasty and satanic ,but immersed in a truly dark humour which is a surreal quality stamped all over this british classic . The movie gets better with enough logic,though the PC played by EMILY MORTIMER ,gets a clue of his intentions but the senior officer refuses to intervene,from here on its a brilliant movie where everything from police cover-ups and the in effete judiciary is fully mocked by an intelligent script and director . BARBER swathes his images in almost candle lit dark london alleys and towpaths and the surreal light adds a mystique to the man and his quest for seeking communal justice after all doors are shut and I admire his courage and wisdom to chose such a sensitive subject which we see everyday driving and cycling in and near council states with hooded kids creating carnage ,while the police fills forms to stow them away as it is a fashion parade with criminals as celebrities . While the British state has totally failed to protect it's citizens,with loopholes of administrative errors and corruption ,the punitive measures as deftly employed here are without malice and a moralist fable which deserves a rousing applause ,in fact harry brown still has enough conscience after all these vicissitudes which he demonstrates in his gentle yet tough character , as he fails to execute the only pre-meditated murder he has planned ,but in the face of a mendacious and totally corrupt media and establishment ,he is lucky to escape with his live as dozens are butchered unreported in the ghetto council states of london and all over UK . A Posthumously, nuanced magnificent act by an old wizard who carries this low budget classic on his stooped shoulders but he is a true stalwart and deserves a great award for hIs ruefully strong but tenderly compassionate performance ,WHERE Divine justice IS served on a poetic platter for the socially indifferent ,and the incredibly insensitive britain we have bred in the last decade alone and it has great dialogues filled with brusque dark humour which Caine delivers with a penchant where he gets applauded by audience multiple times for this significant ARTISTIC achievement . – usman latif khawaja , havering,london,england

Tony K

Sir Michael Caine - what a master, what charisma, what an entertainer! 70 years young and he's done it again - you can't take your eyes off him and it is such a superb film. Once again the Time Out critics have got it hopelessly wrong. Two stars no way, this is a five star film just for its entertainment value. Sure there are some improbables in the film but they are easily forgiven. It's pacey, smart and so much a film of our times. Beautifully made and Emily Mortimer and Charlie Creed-Miles were great in their parts too. Highly recommend it.

Tony K

Sir Michael Caine - what a master, what charisma, what an entertainer! 70 years young and he's done it again - you can't take your eyes off him and it is such a superb film. Once again the Time Out critics have got it hopelessly wrong. Two stars no way, this is a five star film just for its entertainment value. Sure there are some improbables in the film but they are easily forgiven. It's pacey, smart and so much a film of our times. Beautifully made and Emily Mortimer and Charlie Creed-Miles were great in their parts too. Highly recommend it.

mary of inverurie

Excellent performance by Michael Caine. Great direction for a newcomer. He should go far. Will look out for a few BESTS for this one. See it now.

mary of inverurie

Excellent performance by Michael Caine. Great direction for a newcomer. He should go far. Will look out for a few BESTS for this one. See it now.

Knobby

Best film I've seen in 25 years. Please put this film in front of the politicians or this could be the very near future

Knobby

Best film I've seen in 25 years. Please put this film in front of the politicians or this could be the very near future

usman latif khawaja

timeout is writing reviews from cuckooland and this is proof enough -DC -I HOPE when you went to uxbridge they did not teach you how to cease your thought processes from functioning ,as this was a brilliant film as most viewers have proclaimed and you need to revise your review please as this review is gross injustice -worst than the senseless gang violence shown so affectively yet subtlly in this low budget off -beat classic -and it is definitely a glorious monent in micheal caine's illustrious career - i request anyone who lives in UK to go and see this as after a long long time i saw a rivetting tale of divine justice being served to a corrupt and effete system and establishment - just ignore the TO REVIEW - PEOPLE WERE APPLAUDING AND IT HAPPENED MORE THAN ONCE - micheal caine deserves an award for this posthumous performance both nuanced and totally realistic in all aspects -must see

John Walter

Don't be put off, it's no way as mind-numbing as some of these reviews would have you believe. I liked the way the film-makers credited their audience with intelligence and managed to tell a story without spelling out every step. Witness the death of his wife, or the moment when he opens the box. The audience I saw it with at the weekend had no problems with murkiness - one line by the policeman got a round of applause.

John Walter

Don't be put off, it's no way as mind-numbing as some of these reviews would have you believe. I liked the way the film-makers credited their audience with intelligence and managed to tell a story without spelling out every step. Witness the death of his wife, or the moment when he opens the box. The audience I saw it with at the weekend had no problems with murkiness - one line by the policeman got a round of applause.

Harry

You don't know your own city. I lived in London from 1982 to 2001 (I left and now live in USA). You either live in some idyllic village or to never venture out after 10pm. Many of our big cities are in serious trouble, some young men DO carry handguns our police don't and law abiding people are prohibited, a recipe for disaster. Perhaps you disapprove of the movie because it dares to reveal a cancer that is eating away at our society, lawlessness, agression, intimadtion, abuse on an ever rising scale, The film has it's problems but daring to expose the true nature of our decaying society isn't one of them.

John N

Michael Caine is excellent and the drug den scene is 100% adrenalin. Loved it! Not sure who played the villain who confronts HB on the canal path but he too is excellent. Very enjoyable and puts Micheal right up there again with his portrayal of Dirty Harry Brown 9/10

John N

Michael Caine is excellent and the drug den scene is 100% adrenalin. Loved it! Not sure who played the villain who confronts HB on the canal path but he too is excellent. Very enjoyable and puts Micheal right up there again with his portrayal of Dirty Harry Brown 9/10

Jaime

I guess there is plenty to be said for sides of the argument when it comes to reviewing this film. For the positive side, it is technically very accomplished (for a first time director AND a British film), and tells its tale of revenge with violence and gusto. Nearly everyone I've spoken to who has seen this movie has been very pleased with witnessing young thugs get their comeuppance at the hands of what would, in their minds at least, be considered a soft target. This films offers little new perspective, and in my opinion portrays it's villains with an often scary degree of accuracy. Likewise with the way our Police force often finds itself impotent at offering any form of control, and seldom prove to be a deterrent. HOWEVER, this is no documentary on life in the rougher parts of our cities, and as such it seems to have been picked apart by those seeking a realistic and morally rounded story. It can also be said that after a very promising start, things take a distinct turn for the "Hollywood". Ultimately, this is no bad thing. It's not very often that we are treated to such a solid 18+ popcorn film from our shores, and its story and characters (let alone the violence) are no more pantomine than those portrayed in classics like "Boyz in the Hood" or even "The Departed". And as a bonus, we get to relish in a very dynamic performance from Sir Michael Caine. This film may not be a classic, but it's definitely one of the more enjoyable offerings of this year.

Tom Moore

Saw this last night. What a deeply cynical film ! It left me most disappointed. An impressive array of talent seems not to amount to the sum of its parts. There is a veneer of technically well-achieved realism, but I sense an all too blockbuster-hungry mentality behind the shape of the film. Reality will always be more interesting than fiction like this, and it's a shame that someone didn't have the courage to see the detailed observation of the first half carry the day. For those who get off on genres, perhaps you can get excited about the pipework rather than what's flowing through it.

Richard Movies

Pretty awful really given the talent which has been applied to this rather shoddy remake of the russian original. i am actually surprised that no one else had picked up on the remarkable Moscow septagenarian sniper revenge movie on which Harry Brown was based.What does surprise me is how the director and scriptwriters fluffed such an opportunity to really make a statement. Oh well, as James Robertson Justice so adroitly says to Dick Van Dyke in Chitty Bang Bang - " Had your chance - muffed it".

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