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Harry Brown

  • Film
  • 2 out of 5 stars
Harry Brown.jpg

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars
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.
Written by Dave Calhoun

Release Details

  • Rated:18
  • Release date:Friday 13 November 2009
  • Duration:103 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Daniel Barber
  • Cast:
    • Michael Caine
    • Emily Mortimer
    • Liam Cunningham
    • Iain Glen
    • Charlie Creed-Miles
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