Harry Brown (Blu-ray)
The greatest strength of this film happens to also be its greatest weakness. Director Daniel Barber told a realistic story about an old, decrepit man that carries out some vigilante justice in his crime-stricken neighborhood. Harry Brown (Michael Caine) isn’t Superman and doesn’t instantly get superhuman strength; he’s an old, tired man that has health issues and is limited by his aging body. While I respect the realistic telling, the unfortunate side effect is that the whole film lost a lot of “oomph” that other revenge-themed films deliver on. Yes, it’s nice watching bad guys die, but when your lead character passes out while running after one of them because he’s so old, the sequence loses some of its luster.
Aside from the lead character being a realistic old man, the story follows the typical man-on-a-mission synopsis we’ve seen several times before, most recently by Mad-Mel in EDGE OF DARKNESS or Denzel in MAN ON FIRE. We quickly realize Harry Brown is a lonely man with nothing to lose, which means he has no fear. Then the thugs kill his best friend, which gives him a reason to be violent. Then we learn that he was a former marine officer, which legitimizes his murdering skills. None of that is anything new to the genre and it’s all stuff we’ve seen several times before. So the focus turns to how well they deliver with the violence and that’s where the film stutters.
To be fair, I was okay with some of the killings when they first started. Although Harry’s hesitation didn’t make a whole lot of sense, the killings themselves worked for what they were. It wasn’t until the tunnel scene that I started questioning how Harry was going about exacting his revenge. Up until that point, the tunnel was packed with thugs, but when he shows up, it’s just the two guys he wants to kill and their girlfriends. But okay, I’ll buy that; why didn’t they just open fire and start shooting? Or better yet, why didn’t he open fire and speed up the process? I guess the point to these questions is that the scene felt awkward and they could have done more with it. But that scene brought us into the grand finale, which took place in the midst of a giant riot against the police. This again felt a little over the top, which led to what I felt was an unfitting ending.
It was refreshing to see an action film with an older actor actually acknowledge the actor’s age and then incorporate that into the film. In the days of a 60-year old Sylvester Stallone doing the same stunts of a 30-year old Jason Statham, I liked the fact that Daniel Barber told a realistic story. However, that representation of reality needed to be continued with other aspects of the film, along with some more creative “action” scenes. Few things in film are more exciting than watching the good guy kill a deserving bad guy, which makes the death scenes in HARRY BROWN that much more frustrating.
Video: We get a nice video transfer here, which was very surprising given the independent British quality of the film. But the transfer was consistent throughout and looked wonderful.
Audio: The audio was also impressive and delivered an even mix with great effects and clear dialogue.
Commentary with Michael Caine, Daniel Barber and Kris Thykier: This commentary isn’t as great as you might expect it to be, but they give an average commentary and cover the normal commentary elements.
Deleted Scenes (17:11): Nothing special with these scenes and most would have dragged the story out, so it seems they were cut for pacing reasons.