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Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Plotwise it's pretty basic - a revenge thriller in which an old man, the Harry Brown of the title, reclaims his neighbourhood from a group of gun crazed, drug addicted thugs. But there is much social commentary in the skilled hands of first time director Daniel Barber as he presents Britain's inner city slums as no-go areas to even the police.A police force that operates on rules and regulations rather than common sense.
There are some stylish if horrifying scenes - mobile phone footage of a young mum's murder, the drug dealers lair with the smack-heads shambling about like tooled up vampires and the gun play is mostly executed with Tarantino'ish choreography.
At the heart of the film though is a great performance from Michael Caine - in comparing the film to Grand Torino the viewer realises that although there are similarities in the characters Caine and Eastwood portray these are only on the surface and where Torino is a reflective movie, Harry Brown is much more in the ilk of Death Wish. Though far more stylish than the Michael Winner shoot em up. The violence here is extreme though mostly of the comic-book variety and the ending does stretch things a little too far. But throughout Caine plays it straight and adds much gravitas to the role.
An excellent film which starts out seeming to examine the socio-political reasons for council estates being run by teenage gangs but then resorts to crowd pleasing vigilante violence. A man's gotta' do what a man's gotta' do. - It's a western in different clothes and a damn good one at that.