Harry Brown (2009 – Blu-Ray)

“It’s not Northern Ireland Harry… No it’s not, those people were fighting for something, for a cause. To them out there, this is just entertainment”

Having watched one London bound Michael Caine film this week I thought I’d try another with the 2009 release ‘Harry Brown’. The story follows seemingly mild-mannered pensioner Harry’s nightmare existence among the violent denizens of a south London estate.  The simmering unchecked violence has prescient shades of the recent London Riots.  After his wife dies and the estate’s youths brutally murder his only friend it’s revealed that Harry was as a young man a highly trained marine who it’s suggested took a less than blameless part in the bloody past of Northern Island. At this point he acquires a hold-all full of guns and turns vigilanty.

The thing that nearly ruined the film for me was the use of ‘Digital Blood’. When are filmmakers gonna learn that you can always tell it’s been added in post and that just squeezing a bit of Heinz everywhere would probably look more realistic! Violence is used thoughout ‘Harry Brown’ and when it is physical like punching and kicking it is shocking to the point where you may be forced to look away. Then as soon as someone gets shot you’re not turning away in disgust but throwing your hands in the air saying “That looks so fake!”.

Caine is of course mercurial as the star of this depressing show and the supporting cast of young actors is excellent to. However the usually reliable Sean Harris turns in a performance so outlandishly crazed, depraved and rotten as a drug dealer that it clashes with the gritty realism on display elsewhere. The film’s thought-provoking grimness is diminished by a final “Revelation” that I found largely meaningless.

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