Harry Brown

Harry Brown

 

(Cinema City- 05/26/2010)

 

“Harry Brown” is a dark film full of violence, drugs, and despair. It is a revenge picture that, after seeing it, made me pause and ask, “Am I going soft?’

Because you see, on the surface “Harry Brown” is pretty standard fare. Michael Caine plays the title character as a proper Pensioner. He has a wife in the hospital, a friend at the pub, and a daughter (unfortunately) in the ground. With his daughter already gone, he soon loses everybody else in his life. (At his wife’s funeral, only Harry and his friend Len attend. At Len’s funeral, only Harry will attend. Harry has the worst luck. Does this mean nobody will be at Harry’s funeral?)

He loses Len last, and his death is the worst. Neighborhood kids have been causing a ruckus and Len decides to do something about it. And he pays ever so dearly. His death is full of ugliness as he is stabbed and urinated on.

Of course, before all this, we of course learn through brief conversation that Harry used to be a Marine, and something of a lethal one at that. When Len asks if he had ever killed anybody, Harry responds, “You can’t ask me that…I put that behind me long ago.” So, of course he is a former badass that will soon re-enter the world of death.

The way he does so is handled like any other movie of this genre. Of course they will find evidence that will cause the plea to go from Homicide to manslaughter. Of course it looks like most of the punks will go free. Of course the only way to handle it is for Harry Brown to kick some ass.

And this bit is highly unrealistic as Harry gallivants rather freely through drug dens where beat tricks seem to be OD’ing on the couches and nobody pays him much mind. Nobody, that is, except for a detective played rather hopelessly by Emily Mortimer.

But what is wrong with this film that left me feeling less than great? Caine is great as always. It is adequately directed (and sometimes even more than that: the opening few minutes are a bit of brilliance revealing the dire situation our film is set in that the film never quite reaches again). And even better, the film is set in a world of actors and classic technique. Flashy editing and CGI have mostly been left at the door. Sure the situation is unrealistic, but what single man versus nearly everyone revenge flick has ever been labeled as “realistic?”

Maybe it is that Caine is so lost and the ending less then ideal. Sure Michael Caine can look at the run down tunnel and no longer see delinquent children hanging out. Now he only sees a deserted delinquent tunnel. And he still has nobody to play chess with. And who will go this murder’s (in the name of good!) funeral? There is a lot of pain and ugliness in this film. I had trouble locating the hope. Now, maybe hope isn’t necessary, but if there is going to be all this blantantly unrealistic nastiness, shouldn’t there at least be some point to it all?

One closing thought. Think of a bunch of revenge films (by the way, I’ll concede this is a million times better than “Death Sentence”). Okay. A bit of magic now. I don’t know what is on your list, but I will use trickery to bring one to the surface, using “Harry Brown.” Harry’s last name is Brown. We all know brown as a color. If we were to think of dirt, we would likely name it as brown if we had to place a color to it. So brown is a dirty color. So when we say brown, we can replace it with “dirty.” Mr. Brown’s first name is Harry. Now we will take the title “Harry Brown” replace “Brown” and reverse it like they would in Europe or for records (you know, last name first). Did I get it?

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