"To them out there, it's just, entertainment. . ."
Michael Caine is easily, without a doubt, indisputably, an actor not only in his prime, but the incarnate of a performer's dedication and the ease of realism we all strive for in our roles. The kind of power Sir Caine possesses has been swimming through his veins since his emergence in the 60's and hasn't ever let him down.
And Harry Brown is a very well placed example of just that.
Daniel Barber, the British born director coming hot off his 2008 Oscar nomination for his 35 minute short film, The Tonto Woman , a western. I've yet to see this film, entirely, but from what I've watched so far, the guy followed his footsteps and formula from Tonto and bought that beauty and subtly to Brown.
This film starts off with the initiation (via cell phone footage, we're officially in 2010) of a new gang member. Which means he has to get high as fuck and tote a gun around, then use it on someone, completely random. They eventually choose someone in broad daylight, single mom, complete with stroller and a 2 year old son inside it. She gets a few bullets to the face and they speed off on the bike, only to get hit by an oncoming truck. The video phone spills into the street, filming the mess left behind. The next morning Harry Brown's eyes open, head drollfully resting on the pillows, as the news reports the story on his radio. This is the daily life around him, and pretty much how it really goes in that section of England today.
Harry's only attachments to a life with love and comfort are his dying wife, and his longtime mate, Leonard Attwell (David Bradley). They spend their days in the local pub, playing chess attempting to speak of things lite in topic. The pub is run by Sid, a man taking kickbacks from the local punks who run guns and drugs around the way. Harry chooses to ignore this, Leonard however, has extreme distaste. Harry is the man who regularly takes the longer routes to avoid the worst of his part of town. This also causes him to miss his wife's last minutes, afraid to pass under the tunnel. After the funeral Leonard revels to him he cannot take it and shows him a giant ass bayonet from WWI. Seriously it was huge (that's what she said). The next day, the police arrive at Harry's doorstep to inform him Leonard was murdered the previous night. That's now 2/2 the thugs have taken from Harry. Completely destroyed, Harry eventually snaps after a heavy night of drinking. On the way home, his muscle memory from the Royal Marines kicks in and he turns a knife on a local punk attempting to rob him. There is now no turning back and Harry decides to rid the whole area of them all.
Michael makes us cry, ponder and feel invigorated with power and finesse. Daniel Barber's approach to this film was real, scary, and grity. A 21st century English Death Wish, only better. Caine doesn't go out of his way to look cool, or perform some silly stunt. His age bleeds through all his heroics like a mustard stain on a white shirt. He is not that fast, he not that strong. But make no mistake, Harry Brown is still sharper than every knife at the store.
Emily Mortimer plays "Mom" Detective Inspector from the department of redundancy, Alice Frampton. D.I. Frampton slowly starts to realize that the sad, lonely widower she's come into contact with might be none other than the catalyst behind the escalating violence, fear, and thug hits around the bend. Mortimer's pain for Harry's losses and newly secluded lifestyle is brought to life, in just the right sort of way a cop with a heart should do it. I sorta of thought of Mariska Hargitay from S.V.U., where at times, she feels the morality in the crimes and losses of the stories, just enough.
This film gives us the feeling that the very real violence that exist on the streets of the Elephant And Castle housing estate can be brought into our own living rooms and we either fight or fold under the pressure. Harry fought, and Michael gave us something special to prove why he's the not just a Knight, but a king as well.