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Sunday 2 October 2011

Burl reviews Harry Brown! (2009)

Hi, Burl here to review not a person, but a movie named after a person! That person is Harry Brown, an old ex-marine played by Michael Caine! He lives in, apparently, the worst place in the world, or at least that’s how the filmmakers present it! It’s a council estate in London, dominated by a group of the most unsavory young people since… oh, I don’t know, since the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies!

Ha ha, what happens is that Harry’s good friend is stabbed and mutilated by these ruffians, and so with out so much as a by-your-leave, Harry takes up weapons and starts to slay the miscreants! I thought for a while it was going to be an indictment of Britain’s gun control laws or something like that, but it was very easy for Harry to get all the guns he wanted! So maybe it was more of an indictment of lax enforcement of gun control laws? I’m not sure! Ha ha, this is a pretty confused movie in many ways!

It’s a real downer too! It has very little to offer aside from a good Caine performance and the possibility of satisfied bloodlust when the young nogoodniks are massacred! But it’s curiously unsatisfying even on that simple point! I mean, that should be the easiest thing in the world for a revenge picture to pull off, and certainly it manages to create a few hateful bad guys! But it’s as though the movie wants to give a little bit of lip service to the possibility that there are societal roots to the nasty behavior of the hoodlums, but then wants you to forget it even brought it up when Harry starts a-blasting!

It’s the kind of movie where they mistake long, nicely lit still shots for actual gravity and substance! Sure, Harry is newly a widower as the movie opens, and of course you feel empathy for him! And then again when his friend – his only friend, mind you – is killed! But he becomes a merciless killer so quickly, and with so little regard for actual guilt versus associative guilt, that he becomes a cartoon! Even Death Wish had more nuance to it!

Also: CGI blood! My gosh, how cheap can you get? I can understand it in a low-budget zombie movie where every second shot has a fountain of the red stuff, but in a medium-sized movie like this, which climaxes with a riot, features a big-name actor and has maybe a total of six bloody deaths, they should be able to afford a few squibs and some fake blood! My gosh, how many gushers were there in Dawn of the Dead, a two-million dollar movie? Lots! This movie, which cost nearly $8M, might have tried a little harder in the grue department, particularly because that’s what it appears to consider the important part, rather than, oh, say, well-rounded characters or a consistent philosophy!

Anyway, because I like Michael Caine, even in Jaws the Revenge, as well as a couple of the other performances, I give this movie one and a half pistol-pipes! What’s a pistol-pipe? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out, but the scene is almost worth it! Ha ha, enjoy!

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