Harry Brown

Year: 2010
Production Co: Marv Films
Director: Daniel Barber
Writer: Gary Young
Cast: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer

Everything I'd read about this film made me expect a kind of geriatric Death Wish . Michael Caine's a mild mannered pensioner living a quiet life in a hellhole block of council flats that's been taken over by chavs and drug dealers.

After burying his wife following a prolonged illness and losing his best friend when the local gang set upon and murder him after he confronts them about their harassment of him, Harry decides to take the law into his own hands while a pretty detective (Mortimer) and her partner sniff around trying to get to the bottom of things.

The comparisons to Death Wish don't do it any favours. I expected Harry to buy a gun and start stalking the streets in the opening act, but it's not until almost the end that he first acts against the young killers, and when he does he seems so unsure of himself it's not very satisfying.

The film deserves some praise for wanting to study the evolution of a peaceful man into a killer rather than just a one-man army on a walking frame, but there are two problems. The first is that everything just feels like setting up to get to the good bits, and the second's Michael Caine himself.

For his experience, longevity and profile, I've just never been convinced he's that good an actor. He can do Cockney, but any variations on his screen persona come about because of the story (Batman Begins) or period detail (Quills).

The script could also have been a bit more subtle, and with a less plodding pace it could have been much better.

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