BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 28, 2010
“Harry Brown” is a revenge drama following in the footsteps of the Clint Eastwood picture, “Gran Torino.” Michael Caine delivers an (as usual) stunning performance as the man on the mission, Harry Brown, who, after losing his wife to sickness and best friend to a gang uprising, reaches his “breaking point.”
If there are two bookends to the spectrum of revenge dramas, “Gran Torino” being the passive end and “The Punisher” is the aggressive end, “Harry Brown” falls smack dab in the middle. Not killing everyone but not taking bold action, “Harry Brown” is more unsettling because of the lack of revenge taken. Caine, showing signs of his age, may not be suited to a Thomas Jane rampage, but yet, only a few men dying in the name of revenge is hardly revenge at all.
With a lackluster twist and ridiculously excessive uprising of local gangs versus SWAT (who are passive rather than aggressive), complete with Molotov cocktails and utter anarchy, the only elements saving the film from destruction are the performances from Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer. Mortimer proves effective in the role of the detective, showing all the right emotions at all times. Though, at times, she is immobilized by the plot’s restraints, she can rise above and delivers a worthwhile performance.
The film effectively causes you to think about the state of the world. The line that best describes the nature of the film is a line shared with Caine & Mortimer regarding Caine’s revengeful actions, stating that this is not Northern Ireland and Caine is no longer a Marine. Caine responds that Mortimer is correct because, at least in Northern Ireland, they were fighting for something, unlike the gangs that destroy out of boredom.
Instead of begging for multiple viewings, “Harry Brown” begs you to watch one of the films at any other end of the spectrum. It is not a black mark on the actors’ or director’s resume by any means but still opens a desire for wanting more out of the film as a whole. However, “Brown” proves that Caine still has some great performances left in him and can carry a movie by himself, rather than just coming his way through the remainder of his career.
April 30, 2010
(for strong violence and language throughout, drug use and sexual content)