Sunday, October 24, 2010
Michael Caine makes Harry Brown work. He takes it past the rather obvious comparisons to Death Wish and drives by Eastwood's Gran Torino. Every muscle on the face of this great actor speaks volumes about Harry, his life and his thoughts in a film that despite its measured slow pace and its disturbing canvas of a neighbourhood poisoned by vice ultimately ends up being a muddle. It isn't enough of an action flick feeding our guilty pleasure for vigilante fare and it only cursorily examines the sorry state of law and order. However, it succeeds as a drama with characters interpreted by a competent cast led by Caine. Caine towers above the rest, aided in some measure by the fact that the film is about his character. This isn't a film in the Batman/Nolan canon where Alfred scores in his few scenes. This is an urban western about a man driven to do things he had sacrificed years ago by a personal tragedy. Where Gran Torino had a man discovering his better side in the twilight of his life, Harry Brown gives us a man transformed by grief and loss to action that fails to offer either succour or someone to play chess with.