A story about a troubled boy growing up in England, set in 1983. He comes across a few skinheads on his way home from school, after a fight. They become his new best friends even like family. Based on experiences of director Shane Meadows.
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In England, retired Royal Marine Harry Brown spends his lonely life between the hospital, where his beloved wife Kath is terminally ill, and playing chess with his only friend Leonard Attwell in the Barge pub owned by Sid Rourke. After the death of Kath, Len tells his grieving friend that the local gang is harassing him and he is carrying an old bayonet for self-defense; the widower suggests him to go to the police. When Len is beaten, then stabbed to death in an underground passage, Inspector Alice Frampton and her partner Sergeant Terry Hicock are sent to investigate. They pay Harry a visit but don't have good news; the police have not found any other evidence, other than the bayonet, in order to arrest the hoodlums. This mean that should the case go to trial the gang would claim self-defense. Harry Brown sees that justice will not be granted and decides to take matters into his own hands. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Although supposedly set in south London, most of the graffiti on the estate has been lifted straight from the New York underground scene by the movies art department, with internationally recognized American Graffiti artists such as 'Kez' and 'Skuf' and 'YKK crew' adorning the supposedly British sink estate. See more »
Do you want it, fella, huh?
Because you wanted this yesterday, brother. You wanna do this shit?
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Solid film that needed more in the way of intelligence and comment in the script
I was at a recent Chase & Status gig, feeling old and a bit out of place when they did a track featuring Plan B which had the video projected onto the back of the stage. The video included clips from Harry Brown and it reminded me this film existed since it has slipped away in my mind. So, back in my mind, I decided to watch it despite only having heard so-so things about it. The end result of this was for me to have those so-so things confirmed because it is a film that kind-of does a job in terms of being a solid watch but at the same time doesn't really perform any other function or have anything specific to make it particularly worth seeing.
The plot in a nutshell is that a pensioner seeks revenge on the drug gangs running his estate when they kill a friend of his. So essentially we are in Death Wish territory although I was curious to see if the film celebrated vigilante violence, whether it condemned it or whether it used the thriller plot to make comments on the state of modern Britain and such forgotten estates. Strangely it doesn't really do any of these and mostly it just plays as a straight thriller. As such it is perfectly watchable with excessive violence, some tense scenes and a generally well created world of a police no-go area. It is not brilliant by any means but it is fine for what it is. It does all get overblown towards the end and I found it a little too over the top to take seriously, but it is what it is.
The lack of anything else going on was a problem for me though. It wasn't that I needed it to take a stand on anything, I just wanted it to be a bit smarter and more interesting than it was. The film doesn't have much to say about anything though; not about society, not about crime, not about policing and not about justice. Of course the film doesn't owe me anything like that nor does it have to have any comment when it is content to just be a drama it just needed to be a better, more engaging drama to make up for it.
Caine is the main appeal and he does hold the screen in this role. His performance is good and it did make me wish the material had given him more to work with in terms of substance. He is a great presence but he is lost in the overblown final third and really deserved a tighter focus on his character. Mortimer has little to do other than be the face of the powerless police while the majority of the cast turn in rather easy "gangster youth" performances although the main ones do have a bit more about them than that. Plan B has done this sort of thing before and he is OK but his character is too simple compared to the content of his first album it is far too one dimensional but he is solid enough doing it.
Overall Harry Brown is a decent enough film as a basic drama/thriller. It is enjoyably mean even if it does just what you expect this sort of story to do. I would have liked at least something in the way of comment or intelligence in the material though, but if it is there it doesn't come through. Not only would this have made the film better but it would have been good for the cast as well. Solid, but no more than that.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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