HARRY BROWN Movie Review
I always felt that Revenge movies were kind of boring but HARRY BROWN proved me wrong.
First let me set the scene for you. The movie is about this retired soldier named Harry Brown (played by Michael Caine). His life is simple. He goes to visit his terminally ill wife at the hospital; he plays chess with his mate Leonard in the neighborhood pub and that is pretty much it. He lives in a pretty rough British neighborhood that is overrun with gangs of teenage hoodlums who deal in drugs and harass residents.
Things start to unravel quickly when his wife dies and his best friend is killed by gang members. This pushes Harry to go on a murderous vengeance rampage all while the police headed by DI Alice Frampton (Emily Mortimer) is trying nail the kids who committed the crimes and also prove that Harry is targeting the hoodlums that killed his friend (check out Mortimer’s interview on the movie).
Fundamentally, Harry Brown will remind you of every revenge movie you have ever seen, except that it occurs in a more realistic environment. The bleak public housing and the disenchanted youth that roam the street really add authenticity to the vengeance scenario which brings some originality. Plus unlike other typical (read American) revenge flicks, the hero actually struggles quite a bit to carry out his revenge; which makes you cringe and root for him at the same time. All and all, the story is engaging, terrifying but also a tad predictable.
The acting in Harry Brown is spot on. Michael Caine was believable and engaging as the old vigilante who has trouble breathing as he is chasing down bad guys. Emily Mortimer comes across as the shining jewel of morality in an otherwise dark cesspool of opportunism and misery. Even the kids playing the gang members bring a sense of realism that makes you not want to be in the same room as them. These performances fit very well in building the story to where it needed to get without going over the top.
Harry Brown is a dark, tragic but also fascinating revenge movie that does a great job of both avoiding the usual pitfalls of its genre and adding a very much needed dose of authenticity. Simply put, you will root for the good guy, hate the bad guy and not want to ever visit Britain’s public housing which makes US hoods look like a freaking amusement park. A must see.
Harry Brown will be released to limited theaters today, April 30, 2010. You can watch the trailer below.