Much like Charles Bronson’s turn in Death Wish, Harry Brown is Michael Caine’s attempt at playing the “I-can’t stands-no-more” role of a vigilante. And here, in this violent revenge tale, Caine’s portrayal of Harry is heartbreakingly real, helped in part by British thesp’s eyes, which communicate a profound sadness. But what’s really amazing here is how quickly those same sad eyes transform into an ice cold stare. While the film adheres to the standard tropes of the revenge film — the non-violent tough guy who is pushed to the edge, the ruthless thugs who deserve all that they get, and the cops who are always one step behind our protagonist — the difference here is how well this not-so original story is told, most notably in the film’s distressing tone. These thugs may be evil, but the world they come from is hopeless; moments of quiet are interrupted by jarring noise and violence; our man character collapses from exhaustion while pursuing one of the criminals. In Harry Brown, everyone — the villains, the hero, and the audience — is pushed to their breaking point. With Harry Brown, the revenge flick isn’t reinvented, but dammit if a good one isn’t sweet.
Director: Daniel Barber
Writer: Gary Young
Producer: Keith Bell, Matthew Brown, Kris Thykier and Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Emily Mortimer, Michael Caine, Iain Glen, Liam Cunningham, Jack O'Connell, David Bradley, Raza Jaffrey, Charlie Creed-Miles, Joseph Gilgun and Sean Harris