Sunday, 12 September 2010
A good vigilante movie knows there's a formula involved and sticks to it like glue. So ignore the claims that this Michael Caine vehicle is the UK's answer to Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino: while they might both involve old folks taking on the young punks that have ruined their neighbourhoods, Harry Brown is a Death Wish remake in everything but name.
Harry (Caine) is a pensioner living in a high-rise estate where a gang of youthful drug dealers has staked a claim to a nearby underpass. After his wife dies (of old age) and his best mate dies (from messing with the gang), there's not a lot keeping Harry in check. Did he forget to mention he was a Royal Marine who was decorated for his work in Ulster back during The Troubles in Northern Ireland? Guess the local thugs picked on the wrong old age pensioner to mess with.
All your favourite vigilante cliches are here: Harry's first kill is in self-defence (but after that first one all bets are off), there's only one local cop who suspects him and she doesn't know whether to support him or bring him in, and the criminals are across-the-board scum lacked all redeeming features (especially the leader, played by UK rapper Plan B as A Current Affair's worst nightmare). The real draw here is Caine, who manages to be both a convincing badass and an old guy who's not really up to racking up a double-figure body count anymore. He's what you're coming to see, and he doesn't disappoint.
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #477)