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HARRY BROWN (2009)


Director: Daniel Barber

Writer: Gary Young (screenplay)

Cast: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, David Bradley, Iain Glen, Ben Drew, Jack O'Connell, Jamie Downey, Lee Oakes, Joseph Gilgun, Liam Cunningham...

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA):
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, drug use and sexual content.

Runtime: 103 min

Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

The dismal setting (a low income apartment block in London, called "the estate") combined with numerous "low-life" gang members and their druggie friends, plus the raw violence may be too much for some viewers but the movie is very good at what it sets out to do -- show the results of such activity, uncurbed by the police and how it affects the innocent people, namely Harry Brown, a former marine, now an old-age pensioner, forced to live amongst these animals society has protected through lax law enforcement and ordinary citizens who refuse to see what is going on unless they themselves are victimized. (Then of course, they want others to help them.)

I had heard the movie described as "Gran Torino (starring Clint Eastwood) meets Death Wish (starring Charles Bronson)." Michael Caine plays the title role, Harry Brown. Following a series of tragedies, Harry feels his world slipping away. When it seems certain the police will be unable to offer any real assistance, he takes matters into his own hands.

I've always been a fan of Michael Caine's work but particularly so of his portrayal of Harry Brown, a frail, aging man surrounded by an unforgiving landscape filled with bad people and forced to live out his days in a setting normal people wouldn't wish on their worst enemies. Even one of the police sergeants asks his partner, "Would you want to live here if you didn't have to?"

The plight of Harry and those like him will linger in the viewer's mind long after the end credits roll. Is vigilantism the only solution for those innocents trapped in the nightmare world of neighborhood gangs, violence, and drugs?

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