Michael Caine revisits his iconic turn as Carter in the Classic Get Carter, but this time he is not playing the mean bastard on a killing spree to avenge his brother. Oh, don’t take me wrong, Caine is on a killing spree in this one also, and for revenge, too, but this time he is not a mean bastard. He plays a widower and ex-Marine who just had had enough of street crimes and young punks, after his friend is murdered brutally by such criminals.
Directed by Daniel Barber, written by Gary Young, and starring Michael Caine in the leading role, Harry Brown is a violent, brutal and bloody story of revenge. Harry Brown’s wife dies after being in a coma for some time. If that was not enough, his old friend, Leonard, is murdered by a group of punks. On top of that, the cops didn’t give heed to Leonard’s warnings which led to his death. Harry is agrieved, and he is not at all happy with all the crime and drugs and prostitution on the streets of the Elephant and Castle estate. He decides to take matters in his own hand. He becomes a vigilante, killing the people responsible for his friend’s death.
The movie is shot superbly. Grim neighborhood, full of crime. The opening scene, presented in an amateur manner, shows a young punk being inducted into a gang by taking drugs and holding a gun. Later that kid is shown harrasing a mother, and killing her instantly. While fleeing, he himself is hit by a car and gets killed in the process. This scene tells us all about this neighborhood. It is dirty, bloody and death is common in there.
Enough can’t be said about the performance of Michael Caine. He captures the authenticity of his character’s grieving and desperation in a perfect manner. When he turns violent, we see the man behind that grieving old ex-Marine. He is determined, he is vengeful and he just doesn’t care anymore. Emily Mortimer also gives a strong performance, not memorable, her role doesn’t give much room for anything, but she played it well.
All in all, the story may be a little predictable, as is the cast with all vigilante movies, but a gripping performance by Caine and a strong buch of supporting cast makes us overlook the cliches of the genre and make us want to see this movie in a different light.