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Under Review: ‘Harry Brown’

— by MARIUSZ ZUBROWSKI —

I have been called many things. One example is sarcastic but many people also call me a cynic. I don’t see where this inference comes from. I just see things as they are. But something I am quite pessimistic about are the social problems spreading like forest fires throughout our modern and “cultured” society. We’re quite cultured and our youth is a perfect example of the “great” messages that our media sends. Oh right, I guess that’s why I’m considered to be sarcastic.

But all jokes aside, youth is going to the toilet. It’s “cool” to be considered a thug and the oodles of delicious and socially nutritious music that glorifies gang-style killings and drug use don’t help ease the mental pollution of today’s youngsters.

I may be stereotyping, but I call it as I see it and the fact that I had to listen to an hour-long “debate” on how guns should be in the hands of all human-beings in order to ensure “peace” just doesn’t help in changing my mind.

This is why director Daniel Barber and screenwriter Gary Young’s recently released film “Harry Brown” is so interesting. The motion-picture stars Michael Caine as Mr. Brown, an accomplished ex-serviceman who returns to action after his best friend is first degraded and later killed by a local group of teenagers. Harry begins to administer street justice by killing all the accused murderers. Quite ironic if you ask me.

“Harry Brown,” which marks Barber’s directorial debut, trips on its own social commentary. The film starts “innocently” (more of my classic sarcasm) enough with the group of thugs circling around a mother as she takes a walk with her baby in the stroller. One of them is perched on a motorcycle and is holding a firearm. Suddenly, a gunshot is heard. The mother is dead. They flee the scene.

It’s all fine and dandy until Harry becomes a vigilante. Wait, isn’t the film’s message supposed to be damning the uneducated youth and the social problems that arise from such youngsters? How is it that Brown — who in a scene where he is playing chess with his best and only friend Leonard (David Bradley), is shown to be quite educated and extremely calculating — becomes violent? Just plain hypocrisy.

Brown resorts to the same type of vengeance that the young men used on Leonard. They retaliated on Leonard for approaching them with a machete (after they attempt to burn down his apartment) and Brown returned the favor by killing them (after he kills a drug/gun dealer in order to supply his war on terror). Despite a believable performance by the immensely-talented Michael Caine, Brown isn’t a character that you can necessary root for and, in fact, he is just as vile as Leonard’s attackers.

It’s a shame. Daniel Barber’s “Harry Brown” is competently paced and the script isn’t bad, but the amount of hypocrisy present is astonishing. It’s through this hypocrisy that the message quickly manifests into “all human beings are barbaric creatures.” But though I’ve been called cynical, this is a message that I simply cannot endorse.

. . .

Follow Mariusz Zubrowski on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ItsJustMariusz.

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1 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Bev #
    1

    I agree with you. Vigilante justice by definition is done violently and summarily. However, it also seems to happen when a certain person or sector of society no longer has confidence in the local police. I’m thinking that Harry might see a problem – and I don’t know how citizens can affect a change in a corrupt or ineffective police system. No matter what, your review motivates me to miss this Michael Caine film.


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