Michael Caine is superb in Harry Brown, cast in the title role as an elderly ex-Marine who lives on a grim urban estate where vicious thugs terrorise young and old alike. When Harry’s mate, who has been targeted by the bad guys, is murdered, Harry decides that something must be done.
It would be a mistake, I think, to see this film as a modern version of the Charles Bronson movie of the 70s, Death Wish. Both are about vigilantes, but Harry Brown is a superior piece of work, cleverly written and filmed and brilliantly acted.
Caine has, surely, seldom been better, and the pathos he brings to the role of Harry is memorable. The tensions within the police force are cleverly drawn, with Emily Mortimer good as a sensitive DI who suspects Harry of going to war against those responsible for the death of his friend.
This is a dark and violent film, which won’t appeal to everyone. Some might say it glorifies vigilantism, but I don’t think that is either the intention or the effect. It’s a much more personal type of film, more about the character of the man than what he actually does. And there’s quite a bit of irony in the script, too. A very good movie, in my opinion.