Sunday, September 12, 2010

Harry Brown: Grade C


Harry Brown (2009)

Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer. Director Daniel Barber.

This is a close remake of the Charles Bronson vigilante movie Death Wish (1974). Caine is a pensioner living in “the projects” in south London, where he and his chess playing buddy are constantly harassed by lawless, drug-dealing, youthful hooligans. When they kill the chess buddy, Caine goes on the rampage, hunting them down and killing them. The police become aware that they have a vigilante on the loose and gradually sniff out Caine. The investigator played by Mortimer is sure it his him, but nothing can be proved. In the end all hell breaks loose.

Acting by Caine is very good. He has always been one of my favorite B-grade stars. Mortimer is actually a better actor, but this is not much of a role for her. I like the vigilante theme, and Caine executes it with aplomb, but the directing is only so-so and the villains are so completely clich├ęd that it is humorous. Likewise the inept police. The first 10 minutes of the film dealing with the vigilante’s dead wife could be excised with no loss at all. When the predictable ending begins – the big gunfight and big explosions, the movie is basically over. So there is about one hour of good material in the middle that makes the film worth watching.

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