13 November 2009

Harry Brown

Earlier today I watched the new Michael Caine flick, Harry Brown.
This may or may not contain spoilers. Micheal Caine is one of Britain's finest, so it was good to see him in a role like this again, it was like Carter had never actually been got, and was now trying to living the quiet life in some South London shithole besieged by horrible little feral youths packing heat and talking jive.
Caine plays the title role, a very recent widower who's living in a grotty, decaying tower block in a London suburb - with a slight sprinkling of 'Daily Mail' fright perhaps, that said there's no hiding that's what it's like in certain rough arse areas. The kids aren't alright! ASBO's are tags of pride, smack and coke is rife and kids play with real guns. Harry and his pal Len (David Bradley) are still living there despite the dramatic decline, and trying to enjoy a bit of peace and chess, in a depressed and more than rowdy estate. They are from an old generation where respect and values were part of the fabric of their lives and guns and drugs were only seen in the movies.
When his friend Len tells him of his fears about the unruly gangs, Harry recommends telling the police, who he admits he's already been too with little or no help, before Harry's even stopped to think about his friends woes, he's gone. Len after being pushed too far, confronts and then is savagely murdered by the gang.

Harry, an ex-Royal Marine decides to take matters into his own hands and goes all 'Charlie Bronson' on them, which leads to Caine going back nearly forty years to play out a very similar, and of course one of his greatest roles, that of vigilante Jack Carter. It's going to be compared to that role, so compare it I will. The film may well be a biting social commentary on the current state of unruly kids and the ASBO generation, (with added uber-ultraviolence) which as I've said isn't too far from the truth, we've all seen the headlines and the negative news every week, so the subject isn't too far off, more so, there's a look and a swipe at the terrible state of the law, and the system and how those on the wrong side of the law can seemingly crack it, time and time again. I realise this may read back a bit 'Victor Meldrew' but it's pretty true in my humble.
Directed by Daniel Barber, the film starts with shocking mobile phone style footage of kids behaving as kids shouldn't, quite shocking in parts and I must admit to jumping out of my seat on the odd occasion too, bloody, brutal and hard hitting. You could argue it plays out a little slightly far fetched towards the finale a hail of gunfire against the backdrop of a riot, but who knows how far people will go when what little they have is taken from them.
Similarly to Clint Eastwood's final acting bow Gran Torino, Caine - who in all fairness isn't getting any younger, so this was a welcome role for him to dust off his trenchcoat for and his performance here is superb, especially when he turns, (to quote Alex DeLarge) it's old age having a go at youth (this time rightfully). His tormented ex-serviceman on a vengeance mission is a joy to watch, even at it's almost cartoonish height. I'd definitely recommend giving it a watch though. 3.5/5

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