Sunday, September 19, 2010

Harry Brown

Seen the movie DEATH WISH with Charles Bronson? All right, now imagine him older and with a British accent. Oh, yeah, and he looks like Michael Caine. That gives you a pretty idea of what about half of this movie looks like, as Caine plays a retired British marine who goes after the young punks who are making life miserable and dangerous for the people in his neighborhood. The other half is a mixture of police procedural stuff with the cops looking for the vigilante and slow, arty, melancholy stuff about Caine’s life as a friendless widower. This makes for a pretty schizophrenic film, but give it time and it starts to work. Caine is fine as always, the supporting cast does a good job, there are some nice action scenes along the way, and everything builds to a pretty satisfying showdown. I can’t give HARRY BROWN an unqualified recommendation because some of it is too slow for my taste and it could have used a few more scenes of the old codger openin’ a can of whup-ass on them punks, but I think it’s worth watching.


David Cranmer said...

I totally agree. I enjoyed it but the slow parts were deathly.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sounds a lot like Gran Torino.

Ray said...

Have to disagree. Harry Brown is a good movie and very reflective of inner-city London. I assume that what you refer to as slow bits are Harry's indecision.
He's an old man who served in Northern Ireland in the time of 'The Troubles'.
He tends to avoid trouble like not using the underpass when visiting his wife's grave. Even the first killing by the canal is more by accident than design.
It takes the death of his only 'friend' to prompt him into action.
On another level is the gang itself there are a lot of them around. Here a postcode acts as 'turf' just as it does in real life. To a certain extent these are akin to 'no go' areas for the police.
The riot scene has yet to take place in real life - but there are many like myself who believe that it is only a matter of time.
Harry Brown is defensive unlike Paul (Hershey?) in Death Wish who went on an aggressive revenge trail.
Harry Brown isn't sure of his own motives but makes his patch a safer place to be.
Certainly not a British take on Death Wish - it's a lot deeper than that.

James Reasoner said...

Many thanks for your comments and excellent analysis of the film. I see your points, although I do think Harry was pretty aggressive in certain scenes. I don't think the filmmakers were actually trying to emulate DEATH WISH, although some parts of the movie are similar enough that the comparison was inevitable, at least for me. But we agree it's a good film.

That riot scene was really harrowing.

Juri said...

I'd really like to see this kind of vigilancy film in which the vigilante is not a hero. I haven't seen HARRY BROWN, but the Finnish reviews of it weren't very encouraging.