Harry Brown copy

Harry Brown

 

 

 

 

Certificate: 18

Released: 11th November 2009

Director: Daniel Barber

Producer: Matthew Vaughn, Kris Thykier, Matthew Brown, Keith Bell

Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Ben Drew

Screenwriter: Gary Young

Running Time: 103 mins

Trailer:

 YouTube Preview Image

Summary

A brooding, depressing look at today’s society, with disturbing scenes of violence. The villains are loathsome scumbags, who look as though they have just come from the Jeremy Kyle show, and act a little too real for comfort, such is the state of Britain’s estates today. Michael Caine’s performance is towering, carrying the baggage and weight of all the characters he’s played before (not too dissimilar to Eastwood’s Gran Torino in many respects). The film carries with it a sense of the modern day western, with Caine striding around the dark streets carrying his shotgun, out for revenge. We can’t help but cheer inwardly on seeing the sight of Caine ready to unleash his anger, provoking memories of a character he played back in 1971, who was also out to avenge. Yes, that’s right. Jack Carter rides again, nearly 40 years later, older and wiser, but still just as menacing as ever (highlighted during his final moment with a chillingly superb Sean Harris). Harry Brown is Jack Carter’s distant cousin, two sides of the same coin. Fittingly, this is probably Caine’s greatest film since Get Carter.

Harry Brown is a 2009 British action drama film directed by Daniel Barber and starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jack O’Connell, and Liam Cunningham.

The film also features actor and artist Ben Drew (Plan B) who, with Chase & Status, is also responsible for the film’s theme music track “End Credits.”[1][2] Harry Brown had its World Premiere as a “Special Presentation” at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival[3] and was released theatrically in the United Kingdom by Lionsgate on 11 November 2009; the film was released in the United States by Samuel Goldwyn Films on 30 April 2010.

The story follows Harry Brown, a widowed Royal Marine veteran, who had served in Northern Ireland, living on an Elephant and Castle housing estate that is rapidly descending into youth crime. Harry fights fire with fire after a friend is murdered.

 

Plot

Shot with a mobile phone camera, the film opens with a gang initiation, where a boy, later identified as Marky, living on a council estate in South London is made to take drugs and hold a pistol. As the scene cuts, the gang begins to “jump” him into the gang by beating him. Two teenage boys are then seen joyriding on a motorbike, harassing and shooting and killing a mother walking her child, and then fleeing only to be killed by an oncoming truck.

The eponymous Harry Brown (Michael Caine), an elderly former Royal Marine and decorated veteran of Northern Ireland, tries to be indifferent about his violent neighbourhood. He often pays visits to his hospitalized and comatose wife, and spends his days drinking and playing chess with his best friend, Leonard (David Bradley), at a pub. The landlord Sid (Liam Cunningham) is an Irishman who takes kickbacks from a pair of black marketeers, Kenny (Joseph Gilgun) and Stretch (Sean Harris). Harry is informed in the night that his wife is dying, but in order to reach the hospital before she passes away he must go through a noisy public underpass, which is a gathering spot at all hours for a local gang; he is too scared to do so and arrives too late.

After the funeral, Leonard confides in Harry that he is being bullied by some youths and shows Harry an old bayonet he now carries to defend himself, citing that the police would not help him. Leonard later wakes in his flat to find someone had pushed burning dog excrement through his mail slot.

The next day, Harry is visited by Detective Inspector Frampton (Emily Mortimer) and her tough D.S. Hicock (Charlie Creed-Miles), who tell him that Leonard had been murdered. Members of a local gang, including Noel Winters (Ben Drew), are arrested, but refuse to answer questions and are released. Harry gets drunk after Leonard’s funeral, and while walking home, one of Noel’s gang attempt to rob him with a knife; Harry’s military training suddenly reasserts itself and he turns the knife on his attacker, killing him. Frampton visits Harry again the following morning and informs him that because Leonard was killed with his own bayonet, any charges laid could be reduced to manslaughter on the basis of self-defence.

Harry decides to take matters further into his own hands; he follows Kenny from Sid’s pub to a squalid den where he negotiates to buy a pistol. Inside, the drugged-up dealers are growing copious amounts of cannabis and making pornography, and have one of the girls abused in these videos on their sofa, suffering from a drug overdose. Harry suggests that Stretch call an ambulance for her, to which Stretch threatens Harry. Harry kills both Stretch and Kenny, takes a bag containing handguns and money, burns down the den, and drives the girl to hospital, leaving her with £1,000. Harry’s surveillance of Noel’s gang leads Harry to kill a major drug-trafficker and to kidnap newest member Marky (Jack O’Connell), whom he tortures into revealing some cellphone camera footage of Leonard’s murder, proving the gang’s involvement. Harry uses Marky to bait Noel and another gang member into a gunfight, which ends with Noel escaping, Marky and the other member dead, and Harry having an emphysema attack, leaving him to be taken to hospital.

Insisting that the recent violence is related to a gang war, Police Superintendent Childs (Iain Glen) orders a major arrest operation, unconvinced that Harry is the vigilante as D.I. Frampton suspects. The night raids on the neighbourhood result in a massive riot. Harry walks out of the hospital, and Frampton convinces Hicock to help her stop him, but on the way the two are injured in a car crash by the rioters. Harry rescues them and takes them to Sid’s pub, where Frampton tells Harry that Sid is actually Noel’s uncle. Harry also discovers that Sid had been hiding Noel, but his guard drops due to his emphysema, allowing Sid to take the gun and reveal that he is just as bad as his nephew, planning to kill all three and dump them outside as riot victims. Frampton is calling for backup when Noel stops her. Sid expertly suffocates Hicock to death and instructs Noel to strangle Frampton, but Harry kills Noel with a hidden revolver. Sid quickly shoots and wounds Harry, but when he tries to finish him, Frampton’s backup arrives and Sid is gunned down.

At a conference held after the riot, Superintendent Childs announces that Frampton and the late Hicock will be given medals for their work and sacrifice, and denies any evidence of vigilante involvement in the entire case, saying that any such suggestions are unhelpful. The final scene is of a recovered Harry walking toward the underpass, which is now quiet and safe.

 

Cast

Michael Caine – Harry Brown

Emily Mortimer – Detective Inspector Alice Frampton

Charlie Creed Miles – Detective Sergeant Terence “Terry” Hicock

Ben Drew “Plan B” – Noel Winters

David Bradley – Leonard Attwell

Sean Harris – Stretch

Jack O’Connell – Marky

Jamie Downey – Carl

Lee Oakes – Dean

Joseph Gilgun – Kenny

Liam Cunningham – Sid Rourke

Iain Glen – Superintendent Childs

Klariza Clayton – Sharon (unconscious girl)

 

Reception

Harry Brown was met with generally positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 66% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 113 reviews, with an average score of 6.1/10.[4] Critical Consensus is: “Its lurid violence may put off some viewers, but Harry Brown is a vigilante thriller that carries an emotional as well as a physical punch, thanks to a gripping performance from Michael Caine in the title role.”[5] Empire gave the film four stars out of five, The Sunday Times awarded it one; GQ magazine gave the film 5 stars out of 5, calling it “truly awesome”. Robbie Collin of the News Of The World gave the film 4/5, The Daily Mail said “finally a film that really matters…Brilliant” and Shortlist called it “the best British film of the year”. The Times gave the film three stars but considered it “morally and politically repugnant”. The Sunday Times was less positive: “It’s too daft to pass muster as action-movie hokum, let alone as social commentary.”

Perri Nemiroff of Cinema Blend raved the film, saying “Caine pours every ounce of himself into Harry, and the payoff is massive… There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing a compelling story brought to life by standout performances and then further enhanced by stellar directing.”[6]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four, and called the film “…a revenge thriller poised somewhere between Death Wish and Gran Torino.

 

Box office

As of 20 December 2009 the film had earned $6,649,562 domestically, opening against 2012 and Disney’s A Christmas Carol. As of 8 August 2010 total worldwide gross was nearly $10 million including $1,818,681 in the United States where it opened against A Nightmare on Elm Street.[7]

 

Location

The film was mainly filmed on and around the mostly abandoned Heygate Estate in Walworth, London;[8] which was due to be demolished in late 2010.[9]

 

References

  1. Barnes, Ruth (2009-10-13). “Caine’s chill out”. BBC 6 Music. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/news/20091013_michael_caine.shtml.
  2. http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=63936941
  3. “Harry Brown (2009)”. http://www.tiffreviews.com/films/2009/harry-brown/.
  4. “Rotten Tomatoes”. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/harry_brown/. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
  5. “Harry Brown Film Reviews”. Rotten Tomatoes. http://au.rottentomatoes.com/m/harry_brown/. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
  6. http://www.cinemablend.com/reviews/Harry-Brown-4592.html
  7. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=harrybrown.htm
  8. http://www.filmaps.com/films/harry-brown-ref-1226/
  9. Peter Walker “South London’s Heygate estate mourned by locals – and Hollywood”, The Guardian, 3 September 2010

 

External links

 

Reviews

   7.3

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1289406/

 

   65%

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/harry_brown/