Review: Harry Brown

Ever-watchable, Michael Caine enriches damn near everything he appears in, and he elevates this grim vigilante-fest from pretty darn good to essential viewing. Not for the squeamish, Harry Brown is chilling from its kinetic and brutal opening frames right through to the increasingly explosive violence inflicted by both Brown and the truly horrible council estate scumbags he pits himself against.

It’s not unfair to label Harry Brown a bit of a Death Wish knock-off (with a pinch of Gran Torino and Taxi Driver) but that would be overlooking a couple of important points. The first is the British setting and examination of kids there that, as in Eden Lake, are part of a hopeless generation spiralling out of control into violence and nihilism.

The other is, of course, Caine. His performance is riveting enough when the film begins, as Harry Brown, doting husband and pensioner, but the deaths of both his wife and then best pal allow him to dig deep into a reservoir of emotion and produce something particularly compelling. And then comes the revenge.

Never seeming an unlikely hero, despite his age, Caine proves an extremely competent vigilante and everything about the film is geared to make you cheer him on. Whether gun-toting pensioners are a real solution to Britain’s youth crime crisis, however, remains to be seen.