Sunday, 15 November 2009

REVIEW: Harry Brown

When does a movie cross from right-wing social commentary into simple revenge fantasy. There are plenty of '80's action films to answer that question, so I'll leave it to them. But Daniel Barber's film clearly wants to say something about the nature of underclass youth in the UK, but goes to such extremes with their portrayal its of no use to anyone. If this film is to be believed, all kids with a regional accent are demons hiding their horns under hoodie jackets, waiting to beat old guys and single mothers to death for their own amusement. Darn kids. As a revenge movie, its OK I guess, but not anywhere near the Get Carter touchstone it was so clearly aiming for.

The plot sees OAP Harry Brown (Michael Caine) take on the neighborhood ASBO's after they kill his best friend of some years Leonard Atwell (David Bradley). And he kills them one by one, The Bride style, although to infinitely less entertaining effect. You get the impression that the film doesn't quite realize how ridiculous it is, and thus plays its fairly contrived carnage with a rigidly straight face. Its a very dour film, which was inevitable considering it firmly believes it has something to say, but unless a film by Nick Love is in your top ten list you shouldn't be sold here. But the British movie media does have the habit of over-rating our own product when it comes along, most likely because there is so little of it, so I wouldn't be surprised to see many more glowing reviews then this one. Because in my mind, this is a straight to video movie that somehow how managed to bag Michael Caine and that bagged it credibility. Barber makes an effort visually I guess, and a few scenes are well shot, but the writing and characterization across the board is just way too broad, from Ben Drew's Alpha-thug to Emily Mortimer's rent-a-female cop. The only thing of value here is Caine, and he does nothing we haven't seen in much better movies. Of course he has a couple of moments of transcending the script and landing unexpected empathy, but you put a great actor in a bad movie its still a bad movie, it just has a great actor in it.

Fairly workaday entry for the month of November for the British Film industry, better luck next time I guess.

Rating: 5/10

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