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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Harry Brown (2009)

Harry Brown, directed by Daniel Barber, is a gritty British film about an elderly ex marine and widower Harry Brown (Michael Caine) who lives on one of London’s many rough housing estates where gang life is a constant and ever present danger. When his wife died Harry turned to his best friend Leonard Attwell (David Bradley) who expresses his fear of the gangs on the estate after he has been a target of vandalism and threats. When Harry is then informed of his best friend’s brutal murder he begins to lose hope, no friends no family, nothing left. When it becomes apparent that the police are unable to arrest the boy that initiated the attack Harry decides to take the law into his own hands. With his marine experience and nothing to lose Harry sets out to avenge his friend’s death and rid the estate of the youths who feel they can’t be touched. Who would have thought it would take an elderly man to make them fear their actions and realise everyone must be held accountable.    

Now I know people have mixed feeling about Michael Caine, that he can really only play one roll, himself. But whether or not you think that’s true it’s irrelevant for this film, for the role called for a Michael Caine performance. He was exactly who was needed for this role and to be honest, who else would have played Harry Brown, let alone to such perfection. We see two sides to Harry, one loving and caring side for his dying wife and his best friend. But when they are taken away from him we see a sudden change, the sweet old man we saw before takes a dark turn and becomes a vigilante of street justice. Michael plays this wonderfully and proves he is a 3-dimentional actor capable of playing more than one role.

The next biggest performance would be the recording artist turned actor Ben Drew aka Plan B. He plays Noel Winters, a tough youth from a London housing estate. As you can imagine, for anyone who is aware of who Plan B is, this was not too much a stretch for him to play. But in all fairness the role called for a character such as Ben Drew and so he delivered the performance that was needed.

I actually enjoyed this film, never have I routed for a murderer but Michael had me eating out of the palm of his hand. He delivers a form of justice of which could never be handed out by the law and for that he was our hero. The film was dark, gritty, grimy and everything life on a London housing estate is perceived to be. But if you think you know how this film will end then think again. The finale is something of which I did not expect and sets into motion a whole host of events which I could not have predicted. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys and action packed thriller but with a serious and meaningful storyline. Harry Brown breaks the law, but in the right way.   

Written by Oliver Willis

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