Pin It
Favorite

Harry Brown 

A look at vigilantes and the disturbingly authentic limitations of law enforcement.

click to enlarge art15541.jpg

Michael Caine’s Harry Brown was a Marine, once upon a time. Now he’s just a nice old bloke who lives in a terrible London council estate — we’d call it a project — where open drug-dealing, blatant intimidation and violence by hoodie-wearing teens approaches a Clockwork Orange level. Harry’s been coping with it by ignoring it the best he can, but when he loses his wife and his best friend within days of each other — one to illness, the other to an attack by the kids — his old Marine ways are the only psychological support he’s got left. It’s suddenly oh-so easy to pick up a gun again, revert to his military training and cook up a scheme to take back his home.

Michael Caine as Dirty Harry?

Well, not quite. What starts out as a poignantly observed portrait of the bitter loneliness of old age — director Daniel Barber has a keen eye for making the isolation sneak up on you and sting — turns into one of the most grounded depictions of conflicted vigilantism that cinema has seen. The violence is shocking and comes in unexpected bursts, yet it’s somehow less unsettling than the helplessness of the police.

We’re used to seeing bad guys do dreadful things on film, and we’re just as accustomed to seeing the likes of Harry not worry about making a mess of the bad guys in response. What’s stunning here is how realistically the cops’ hands are tied by the niceties of the law.

Emily Mortimer is very fine as a detective who crosses Harry’s path, particularly in her frustration at being unable to do more to help him. And then there’s the open hostility and arrogance of the criminals, who are fully aware of what they can get away with and aren’t in the least bit threatened — at least at first — by this crazy old man who says he’s out to get them.

It may all be exaggerated for effect, but Harry Brown nevertheless feels all too authentic. (Rated R)

Pin It
Favorite

Tags:

Latest in Film

Readers also liked…

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Our Lady Peace, SMSHNG HRTS

Our Lady Peace, SMSHNG HRTS @ Knitting Factory

Fri., Nov. 17, 8 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Maryann Johanson

  • Learning a Lesson
  • Learning a Lesson

    Wonder is sweet and well-meaning, but hardly subtle in its messaging
    • Nov 16, 2017
  • Derailed
  • Derailed

    Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express becomes a dated big-screen whodunit
    • Nov 9, 2017
  • An Indomitable Spirit
  • An Indomitable Spirit

    It may be about overcoming polio, but the British biopic Breathe is unexpectedly humorous and genuinely inspiring
    • Oct 26, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

COUNTRY


FOLK


HIP-HOP


ROCK


SHOEGAZE


© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation