Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Harry Brown

The greatest thing about Harry Brown, and there are a lot of great things about Harry Brown, is that it’s a bona fide Michael Caine film. You may have guessed he’s not supplying solid support to some young buck like y’know… Batman. He’s the starring role. And that’s post-Oscar, knighted, and in his late seventies. It’s also wonderful to see him in (and I mean this in a nice way) a nasty little, London crime flick. Amidst the gritty grime he’s still every bit the movie star, and by returning to his roots in Elephant and Castle he brings a truckload of authenticity to the role. On top of that, Caine owns the film.

I like to see an ageing legend play his age. Although the viewing experience can be bittersweet, it’s much sadder to see a star refuse to play “old”. There’s not a lot of dignity, for example, in doing love scenes with an actress half your age. Here Caine gives good dignity as ex-marine and Northern Ireland veteran, Harry. He also gives good rage as he opens a can of whoopass on the hoodies terrorising his estate.

The film does a rare thing: while painting a damning portrait of violence it does supply some undeniable thrills. Luckily though, it doesn’t get silly. Death Wish this ain't. It’s grounded in reality but is also very cinematic, and for that we should thank the talented Gary Young for his taut and savage script. Also, it’s a fine directorial debut from Daniel Barber. He gives the film a distinct look without self-consciously shovelling on the style. He also draws strong performances from both established actors, such as Liam Cunningham and Emily Mortimer, and newcomers like Ben Drew AKA: singer/songwriter, Plan B. Of course, the most riveting performance comes from the lead man. Seemingly weighed down by a lifetime’s baggage, he’s learnt what it’s all about, sized up the big men (albeit the ones out of shape) and blows more than just the doors off.


  1. Nice blog Will - I'm looking forward to reading your future posts. I haven't seen Harry Brown but I'm gonna now after reading this. Si

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  3. Although Sir Mickey was playing his age he's so triple 'ard and cool that I kind of find it hard to believe he is Harry Brown in the same way I bought into Brain Cox in 'The Escapist'. This is totally my fault and not Michaels I just can't imagine 'Alfie' living as a widower in a piss stained old flat playing chess against Midsummer murders bit parters. Fine performances from all, some clichés are followed, some avoided but never to the detriment of the plot. Great to see Sir Michael supporting young directors and using the kudos earned from starring opposite Steven Seagal to boost the British film industry.