Thursday, March 21, 2013
Harry Brown (2009)
Harry Brown is a 2009 British vigilante film starring Michael Caine as Harry Brown (damn lazy title!), a pensioner living in a squalid neighbourhood infested by brutal gang violence. After the violent murder of his best friend, Harry decides to take the law into his own hands...
After a couple of handheld-camera scenes of gang violence, the movie opens with Harry Brown (Caine) going to the hospital to see his wife Cath, who's severely ill. Sometime later that night, Harry gets a call from the hospital, telling him that his wife has died.
Harry talks with Leonard Atwell (David Bradley), his best (and likely only) friend, in a bar, and Atwell tells Harry how frightened he is, showing Harry a bayonet he's carrying for protection against the gangs in the area. A shocked Harry tells Atwell to not use it, and to go to the police, but Atwell has already tried that to no avail.
The next day, two police...err...police-people, DI Alice Frampton (Emily Mortimer) and DS Terry Hickock (Charlie Creed Miles) come to Harry's flat to inform him that OH YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Atwell was assaulted and died OFFSCREEN?! *seethe*.
The police arrest a local teen gang who they suspect to be (and are) behind Atwell's murder, namely Noel (Ben 'Plan B' Drew), the gang's violent leader.
The police interrogate Noel and associates, to no avail (the only thing they get told other than 'no comment' is crude insults). Later, Harry is drinking the night away at the bar, and when he leaves, a junkie tries to assault him, and in self-defense, Harry stabs the man with his own knife.
A shaken Harry goes home and cleans up, disposing of his bloodied jacket. The next day, DI Frampton visits Harry, and tells him that the police have found out that Atwell owned the weapon that killed him. She leaves after Harry goes off at her for the police's inaction at the crime in the area.
Later, Harry goes into the seedier side of town and visits a gremlin-looking dealer (who's also one hell of a user). Harry is there to buy a gun. Eventually, Harry attacks the two psychos, killing them, and he burns their house/pot farm down.
The next night, Harry follows one of Noel's gang, with intent to squeeze information out of him. And with a riot brewing, thanks to the police operation Bluejay, everything starts coming to a head...
And what a head it comes to! Seriously! Harry would have done good to call Paul Kersey over to help clean the streets up!...
Harry Brown, while compared to Gran Torino a lot, really has a lot more in common with Death Wish. Specifically Death Wish 3, which this movie is practically a straight remake of. I mean straight in that this movie is Death Wish 3 if it was realistic!
One thing that was definitely good about Harry Brown was how it didn't paint the police as incompetent morons, but rather people with sometimes-tough jobs. And police action is what instigates the huge finale of the film.
Speaking of, Harry Brown has an awesome climax! It's all great stuff!
The plot is great stuff too! The movie is very well-written, and I have almost no problem with it whatsoever.
The acting is all flawless! From Michael Caine's fantastic performance, to everyone playing the gang members, to the seedy drug/weapon dealers, to the police, namely Charlie Creed Miles and Emily Mortimer (I spent the whole movie trying to remember what I knew this actress from, and then it hit me! She was the supposedly brittle-boned girlfriend of Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock Season 1!).
There are only three problems I had with Harry Brown. The first, and biggest is Leonard Atwell's lack of a death scene! There's not even any lead-up to his death! The police just arrive at Harry's flat to tell him what happened.
As for my other two problems, there's the title-Why the hell is the movie called Harry Brown, anyway?! That's a nothing title! How about Death Wish VI, or The Underpass Vigilante, or...anything that isn't just the name of the main character!
The other is the song that plays over the ending credits. Pop (or whatever genre that song was) has NO PLACE over the end credits of a dark and seedy vigilante film! It's really distracting to hear it blasting away after the movie's denoument!
So, in closing, Harry Brown is a FANTASTIC film, and I abolutely recommend it!