Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A Wheezing Rampage Of Revenge

It’s official. This chap Michael Caine, who has for so long gone overlooked in the movie world, is surely the planet’s greatest actor. I mean he’s just chuffing marvelous, there are no two ways about it, or if there are the other way is that he is fricking amazing.

In Harry Brown, Caine plays an old geezer, which isn’t much of a stretch to be fair, who gets increasingly Harry Browned off with the local scumbags on his estate. When his best mate, who happens to be the caretaker of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is murdered by the aforementioned scumbags, Harry takes it upon himself to go postal on their asses in a wheezing rampage of revenge.

The first half of the film is almost kitchen sink drama, in which Caine is utterly compelling in every frame. Even The Incredible Suit got something in its eye in the scene where Harry was informed of his friend’s death.

Unfortunately the second half, which is kick started – albeit very slowly – by an overlong and slightly freaky visit to a local gun dealer, loses the plot a bit as it heads toward a big finale which the budget can’t support. Ten hoodies and a handful of coppers do not a riot make. Also the police, bless ‘em, are portrayed as ineffectual plods the whole way through, and although this prompts Harry to take up arms himself, it comes across as lazy characterization. Having said that, Ben Drew is remarkably believable as the worst person in the world ever, which is saying something when you’re sharing screentime with Sir Maurice of Micklewhite.

Harry Brown is depressing, brutal and much better than its American cousin Gran Torino, but perhaps the best reason to see it is to watch a legend doing what he does better than what other people what do it does it. Yeah? As some indication of how convincing he was, the only other people in the cinema were four old ladies who I had to avoid eye contact with on the way out because I thought they were going to beat the living crap out of me.

Back by popular demand (i.e. I forgot all about it until now):

To comment on this post, click here


  1. Hmmm, I can see the similarities between Harry Brown and Grand Torino (not least the Dirty Harry pun in Caine's character's name) but I think Eastwood was aiming for something a bit different. In GT his racist bigot becomes aware of his own shortcomings and sees the whole thing as a way of cleansing himself of his guilt. But, Harry Brown is a a great British film. Anyhoo, just my 2p's worth.

  2. Anon, good point well made. Obviously there are differences between the films, but you can't help but draw the vengeful, gun-toting legendary pensioner comparison now can you?