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September 13, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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Harry Brown

Harry Brown
Director: Daniel Barber

Harry Brown is the most emotionally manipulative film since Stepmom. This new Michael Caine outing has been advertised as a fun wee revenge thriller, Gran Torino by way of Get Carter. In fact, it is more like Jeremy Kyle: The Movie—an hour and a half of chavs getting tortured and this torture being justified.

Caine plays the title role; an ex-British Marine who served in Northern Ireland but lives out his retirement playing chess at the local pub in his bad neighbourhood. In the first act, everything in his life goes wrong: his best friend is murdered by rowdy youths, his wife dies (not because of the youths, but it sucks anyway), and the cops are helpless to do anything. The reason for all this is so that when Caine spends the rest of the film enacting his bloody revenge the audience is meant to say: “it’s ok; the dude’s wife just died”. This could almost work if director Daniel Barber had done one of two things. He could have either played the whole film for laughs, or included some kind of moral about Brown turning into what he despised. Unfortunately he does neither of these things; the whole film takes itself much too seriously and portrays Brown as a hero—a saviour of his community (and not in an ironic Travis Bickle way).

The great Michael Caine is physically incapable of giving a poor performance, but even he is uninspiring in this film. He is by no means bad, but he seems to be going through the motions as he recites the jingoistic script. Emily Mortimer is much better as the officer assigned to investigate the initial murder. Neither of them, however, is able to save the morally abhorrent film which is more Boondock Saints than Gran Torino in the way it glorifies vigilante justice. Gran Torino may have been an overly sentimental, simplistic mush-fest but at least its heart was in the right place. In my opinion, a message of ‘racism is bad’ is preferable to one stating that ‘being a vigilante is good’.

People, if you want to see chavs getting what’s coming to them, watch Jeremy Kyle weekdays at 12:30 on TV2 and give Harry Brown a miss.

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