Written by David Hudson
A Brit film about gangs, violence and inner city crime? Wait, donâ€™t all run away! Although the genre may already be littered with mockney capers and Danny Dyer b-movies, this new flick from first-time director Daniel Barber is a superior offering â€“ albeit a gritty and bleak one.
Sir Michael Caine turns in another fine performance as the ageing, lonely pensioner of the title. Heâ€™s lost his daughter and wife, and lives a sheltered life on a rough housing estate in an unspecified part of London. He and the other old people on the block live in fear of the local teenage gangs and hoodies and, when one of Brownâ€™s friendâ€™s is violently stabbed to death, the ex-marine decides that enough is enough. He buys a gun and decides to exact his own justice on those who killed his friend. Emily Mortimer is the police detective who suspects that Brown may not be the harmless old codger that he first appears to be.
If might sound like a cross between Death Wish and Clint Eastwoodâ€™s Gran Torino, but Harry Brown is a decidedly British and downbeat take on the isolation and fear felt by some of those living on the capitalâ€™s roughest council estates. It could almost be an extended episode of Jimmy McGovernâ€™s excellent series The Street â€“ were that set in the Elephant & Castle. Itâ€™s a slow burning but riveting tale, anchored by a truly wonderful performance from Caine, who will hopefully be rewarded with nods come the awards season. The ending stretches credibility, but thatâ€™s a minor blip for an accomplished and bold directorial debut.
Last edited: 20th March 2010
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