Harry Brown (2009) Michael Caine Starring as WWII Vet

If Gran Torino had been good it would have been Harry Brown. This is one hell of a gritty movie. A pretty unvarnished look at today’s Britain. If you are in a somewhat no-future, modern-life-is-pointless-and-ugly mood, better stay away from Harry Brown as it will certainly not cheer you up. If you like movies like Let the Right One In (The Swedish film!!!), then you might like it although there are no vampires in this movie, only very ugly and depraved humans.

Harry Brown (Michael Cane) is a lonely man. He spends his time visiting his wife at the hospital or playing chess with his only friend Leonard. When his wife dies there is only Leonard left. The two men live in the same depressing housing estate, somewhere on the outskirts of a big British city. Local gangs are roaming the neighbourhood day and night and some of the places and pedestrian walkways are far from safe. Violence and drug trafficking go on, people who pass are molested and harmed. The kids from the gangs are a bunch of real scum, the lowest of the low. No education, no future, only using and abusing.

Harry and Leonard regularly meet in a bar nearby where they play chess. Leonard has been the gangs’ target for a while. They hustle him, threaten him, shove dog shit into his letter box. The old man is terrified and cannot take it any longer. One afternoon he tells his friend that he is now armed. He is carrying an old bayonet and, if necessary, will defend himself.

Not long after this conversation two detectives (Emily Mortimer and Charlie Creed-Miles) come to see Harry Brown to tell him, that his friend has been killed. Beaten up and stabbed to death. Four young blokes are arrested, one more horrible than the other, some in and out of prison and coming from families in which the father, uncle or some other male relative is constantly in prison. The police questioning shows them from their ugliest side. They verbally abuse the female detective, swear and cheer because they know there is no evidence.  Despite their obvious violent tendencies, the police have to let them go.

And that’s when Harry Brown takes a decision. He will avenge his friend. After the first gang members and drug dealers are found dead, the police now shifts from looking for the murderers to trying to catch a vigilante.

Up to now it may seem as if it wasn’t justified to include Harry Brown in this blog but the fact that Harry Brown is an ex-Marine and has served in WWII is important and gets even more important from the moment he decides to take justice into his own hands.

This isn’t a glossed over movie with a tacky ending, this is a tale that might happen, that shows an ugly reality that is far from overdrawn. It also takes a close look at the frailty and loneliness old age can bring.

Harry Brown is one of those old-school soldiers who never spoke about what happened in the war, who possibly tried to avoid thinking of it. The loss of his wife and friend and the brutality of the murder triggers something and liberates him.

Funny enough, this is as well a movie of vengeance as a movie of closure. It’s not pretty, it’s not nice but it’s highly watchable and it shows an absolutely excellent Michael Caine.

10 thoughts on “Harry Brown (2009) Michael Caine Starring as WWII Vet

  1. Sarah says:

    Huh. I read some iffy reviews of this and hadn’t quite decided if I wanted to watch it or not. I’m kind of intrigued now (love Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer, and Let the Right One In). Definitely would need to be in the right mood for it though. I’ll keep it in mind – thanks for the prod!

    • I hardly ever read any movie reviews. I have no idea. It’s a movie that makes you feel uncomfortable, a bit like This is England. The movie also has a bit of a Fish Tank feel, I think you liked that, didn’t you?

      • tuulenhaiven says:

        Wow, Fish Tank – that’s a rough one, although yes I did like it. I know what you mean by it making you feel uncomfortable. That gives my “right mood” idea a point of reference for when I choose to watch this one.

      • This is rougher than Fish Tank I would say.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    First “Grand Torino” and now “Harry Brown”. You need to change the name of your blog to All About Grumpy War Veteran Movies. LOL In your opinion, which of the characters would kids least want to get on the lawn of?

    • Depends on the kids. I don’t think Harry Brown is grumpy at all. Nor is he a racist. He just can’t take it any longer. The war theme is interwoven in a quite subtle way.

  3. Novroz says:

    I haven’t heard about this movie before. I like Michael Caine and this movie sounds very intriguing. It’s still considered as new movie, I probably still able to find it.

  4. […] Harry Brown (2009) British movie about a WWII veteran becoming a vigilante. (Here is my review) […]

  5. […] Harry Brown (2009) British movie about a WWII veteran becoming a vigilante. (Here is my review) […]

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