Harry Brown

Rating – ***

Chavs, drug dealers and general scum beware. Harry Brown is on the town and he’s coming to get you! That’s the simple premise of this competent exploitation flick which has been dressed up as an important social commentary. I don’t think there’s anything particularly insightful or important on display and perhaps the film would benefit if the makers had been aware of that too. Everyone would enjoy a schlocky chav shoot-em-up, so why not be completely shameless about it? There’s no need to endorse the paranoid ranting of The Daily Mail.

Michael Caine is…well, Michael Caine, which is always a good thing. He remains an endlessly watchable charismatic screen presence with the acting talent to back up his raw star power. You get the feeling that even if he came to gun you down, you’d still happily shake his hand and listen intently to his old war stories…. as you lie in a pool of your own guts.

The stand out scene of Harry Brown takes place in a squalid drug den where the eponymous vigilante hopes to buy a gun. The unpredictable schizophrenic intensity of Sean Harris’ “Stretch” is terrifying. Far more effective than a dozen horror films, he merely raises his voice and you almost jump out of your seat. I actually saw this sequence months ago (at a Framestore preview screening). Perhaps it led to inflated expectations for the rest of the film, which is still an impressive, if unremarkable dramatic thriller. The climax builds to an overblown and slightly silly police riot, but Caine’s personal vendetta is far more compelling. So when you see the escalating consequences of his crusade, try to resist shouting “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”

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~ by thewholebuffalo on December 2, 2009.

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