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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Michael Caine
Emily Mortimer
Iain Glenn
Jack O’Connell
Liam Cunningham
David Bradley.
Directors
Daniel Barber.
Screenwriters
Gary Young.
Running Time
103 minutes

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Harry Brown
Don’t you point that hoodie at me...


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Plot
With his wife having recently passed away and his best friend bullied daily by the drug-peddling gangs on his estate, aged ex-Royal Marine Harry Brown (Caine) decides to come out of retirement to clean up the neighbourhood…


Review
Harry Brown
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At a recent screening of Harry Brown, no less than Michael Caine’s 110th film, Empire witnessed one of his friends come up to him at the end and say, “Wow, Michael. That doesn’t pull any punches, does it?” Caine smiled back. “You bet it doesn’t. But I’ll be in trouble now,” he said, gesturing towards his wife, Shakira. “I told the missus it was a bit like Mary Poppins…”

And, let’s be clear, one thing Harry Brown is not, is anything like Mary Poppins.

Most obviously, it’s the UK’s answer to Gran Torino, with its disgruntled OAP putting the smackdown on the smackheads polluting the turf he’s called home for years. It also borders, alarmingly at points, on a fascist’s fantasy, Caine’s Harry shooting, barb-wiring and torturing his hoodie prey without much in the way of remorse and with much in the way of graphic close-up.

In lesser hands, frankly, it could have played like a tooled-up episode of Jeremy Kyle. But Daniel Barber’s economic direction — in, astonishingly, his first feature — gives his revenge flick a distinct identity of its own. From a truly scary, immediate and immersive pre-credits sequence, througha series of unbearably tense scenes (the standout being Caine’s visit to a drug dealer’s den) and to a wonderfully Western climax, Barber takes his time, giving Harry room to breathe. We’re there when his wife dies. We’re there when his friend is brutalised by the gangs on his estate. And, as a result, we’re there with him when he exacts his savage payback.

It’s unsettling, it’s not for the faint of heart and — to repeat — it’s no Mary Poppins. But it is a powerful and accessible movie that’s brave enough to ask uneasy questions amid its explosive set-pieces and witty one-liners. Not to mention one that reconfirms Caine as the unparalleled king of cool. His transformation from chess-playing old codger to gun-toting Dirty Harry is a masterclass in slow-build.

The same, sadly, can’t be said for a series of underwritten, sometimes nonsensical subplots (Emily Mortimer’s daft cop and Iain Glen’s moronic boss especially underdeveloped). Nevertheless, Caine’s mesmerising, tough-as-old-boots performance makes Harry Brown, if no Get Carter 2, somewhere not a million miles removed. Get some.


Extras

Harry Brown Harry Brown
Released: 22 March 2010
Besides some unremarkable interviews and deleted scenes, there’s a hilarious and fascinating commentary from Caine, talking about both the film and his career. Among the trivia nuggets, the legendary knight drops quips about drug-dealing and shooting his wife, Shakira — really.


Verdict
Essential stuff, even by the big man’s considerable standards.


Reviewed by Mark Dinning

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Harry Brown
Empire Star Rating

Terrific

Superbly directed and with a brilliant performance from the wonderful Michael Caine, Harry Brown is one of the best British films made in years. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 11:50, 16 February 2013 | Report This Post


Harry Brown Review

Harry Brown is a vigilante thriller that carries an emotional as well as a physical punch, thanks to a gripping performance from Michael Caine in the title role. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 18:19, 20 January 2012 | Report This Post


The Best British Film Made In Ages

What the fuck is the matter with you people giving this 2 stars? Why has such a little amount given it 5 stars? (good on you for the people who did) I don't mean to sound like a fascist here, but why the hell didn't this get more attention than it deserved? It's an astonishing film! And Caine should've won Best Actor, in my opinion. This is my favourite film of the decade so far, i think. And Empire, you've got some cheek knocking a star off the film for it's "under-written characters&qu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewistarantino at 10:18, 06 April 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Yet Another Impressive Film Dealing With Chav Culture

Watched this last night and really liked it despite it being a bit grim and depressing at times. It's close enough to the reality that we all know is out there to one degree or another but of course exaggerates or over-simplifies to fit things into a movie timescale.. It's certainly exploitative, gory, entertaining and cathartic but that's generally how I like my "vigilante/revenge" films.   Michael Caine was excellent, vulnerable but not helpless due to his army past. Ben Drew (Plan B... More

Posted by keithyt1999 at 09:57, 18 March 2011 | Report This Post


Yet Another Impressive Film Dealing With Chav Culture

Michael Caine is superbly controlled and believable in this film as is Plan B as Noel Winters, the nastiest piece of work to come out of British Film since Jack O'Connell's Brett in Eden Lake. Gritty and compelling stuff. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 17:57, 21 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Harry Brown

Once you switch your mind off and treat this as a straight out exploitation film rather than a searing insight into inner city youth, this is quite enjoyable (that first five minutes of crack smoking hoodies that then go and shoot a mother in the park before getting run over by a truck should set you straight if you're expecting a Panorama special on chavs or some sombre Michael Haneke sort of pirce), and while the director has maybe watched his Gaspar Noe DVDs a few times too many before st... More

Posted by Indio at 19:46, 18 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Harry Brown

This is a very good film. It is now a cliche,but yes it is flawed. It is a good depiction of where Harry lives,and the story is well told. Yes,the Grand Torino comparision is unfortunate,but this isn't a Clint film and is better for it. It defines the word "gritty" and let's be fair,an icon like Caine is superb. When you think of all the danny dyer crap that is dragging British film down,this is a triumph. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 00:46, 22 June 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Harry Brown

Watched this movie last night and thought it was largely excellent. *SPOILERS* Strange fusion of a film, part kitchen sink drama and part action movie. Caine's performance was superbly understated. He is composed whilst informed of his friend's death until the police leave, then he breaks down and sobs. When confronted by a knife wielding thug on the canal path, he looks completely bewildered before his muscle memory from years ago kicks in. The action scenes were about right. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nemesis44UK at 10:16, 21 June 2010 | Report This Post


Caine was as good as ever but i found the violence and most of the characters.. a bit Hollywood. The drug dealer guy was like something out of Mad Max and some of the other guys were a bit over the top. I was a little disappointed as i thought it was going to be a lot more subtle. Still, good to see Sir Michael in a lead role. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chris wootton at 16:32, 06 May 2010 | Report This Post


I was a little bit disappointed I have to say. what I thought was going to be a British Grand Torino, was nothing more than an extended version of an average Bill episode with more violence and swearing. There are a few problems. Michael Caine should be able to play this in his sleep but the contrast from being the dutery old pensioner and transforming into this ex marine killing machine just doesn't gel. It doesn't help that he frequently flips back into both personas making it even less con... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by C3 at 02:17, 27 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Good start - spoiled by ending

harry should have been nicked, tried then ended up inside, where, im lead to believe, all is well. last shot - him playing chess with a new pal . . . . . (camera pulls out to over wall scenes) blue lights flashing, hoodies everywhere, dis-order regins ........... HARRYS SAFE. common, thats a cracker of an ending, no? ... More

Posted by empire No. 1 at 23:08, 19 April 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Good start - spoiled by ending

Watched this last night and it wasn't as good as I thought it would be (reckon 3* myself). If comparing it to Gran Torino I would say the aspect that was better in Harry Brown was the fact he killed some chavs instead of letting them kill him. I think this film would have actually benefited from an extra half hour to flesh out certain characters i.e. the main protagonist, the abused kid, the policewoman, even her partner who was a portrayed unrealistically as real idiot. *** SPOI... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Barry Bethal at 10:25, 11 April 2010 | Report This Post


Good start - spoiled by ending

'Harry Brown' begins beautifully as we are introduced to the shocking but 100% accurate portaryal of street violence used throughout the film. The build up of Harry Brown's character focuses mainly on his emotional turmoil as his only two companions in the world die - one by disease, the other from a violent hoodie-stabbing. From this point on, I found the film to be completely focused on the bloody, ruthless killings, ranging from over-wrought gun fights to rather far-fetched riots. Unli... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by electric_yellow at 00:29, 04 April 2010 | Report This Post


I think a lot of optimists may prefer Gran torino, but this is a typically British movie in that it is bleak, uncompromising and in many ways quite true. I kept expecting Emily Mortimer's character to show Harry the "error of his ways" and there to be some kind of sympathetic explanation for the villains' actions. Thankfully this was not the case and the movie stuck to its guns throughout, literally. This was a crowd pleasing "Dead man's shoes." or a british "Death... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by strangeone at 09:17, 27 March 2010 | Report This Post


Spot on review by Empire, a great film

If this is Michael Caine's swan song, then what a way to go. A film portraying life in what could be any inner city in England and how an OAP pushed beyond the brink responds. Caine provides compelling viewing in an unmissable film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Francis46 at 15:59, 21 March 2010 | Report This Post


Bleak, Depressing, Unsettling But Very Good.

Harry Brown is not for the faint heart. It's bleak, depressing, unsettling but it's a very good film. It's slams the truth of what's happening today to make it a frightening watch from the terrifying few minutes to the final moments of the movie. Michael Caine is at his very best, you are right there with him throughout. The co-stars are also very good from the gang members to Emily Mortimer. Like Empire said it's Gran Torino for UK but where that movie had laughs and charm about it, Harry Brown... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:00, 07 March 2010 | Report This Post


Utterly brilliant

Considering how real and depressing the subject matter is i thought this was one of the most enjoyable movies i've seen in a while. While its all a little predictable, its still a fantastic film with more guts than a dozen british ganster movies put together. The violence as brutal as it is doesn't weaken the story in any way, perhaps because the lead character is exactly the sort of person that i'd like to see dispensing justice on the streets of broken Britain today. Harry Brown is everything ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by natman_begins at 16:45, 11 February 2010 | Report This Post


A SHAME THAT A LOT OF IT'S TRUE.........

Deliberately extreme for effect, but a lead character to care about (even if you can't condone his methods) and loads of characters to despise. The film has all that's bad in modern society (including incompetent policing - that's the point) wrapped up into 90 mins with Brown as the unlikely cure. A masterclass from Caine, and a relevant social message. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by serious_syd at 17:39, 03 January 2010 | Report This Post


Harry Brown

A film created by none other Daniel Barber and Michael Caine never seems to disappoint with brilliant acting and emotions shown on the screen. This film gripped you from beginning to end but they do make it too realsitic to watch at times. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by deppfanatic at 18:45, 26 December 2009 | Report This Post


Harry Brown

Director Daniel Barber deserves credit for keeping the film grounded very much in reality, never descending to the OTT fighting of something like Taken. Caine is in his 70’s now, so it probably wouldn’t have been a wise move for him to attempt some hand-to-hand combat. What he does is portray the obvious vulnerability of your average pensioner and the efficiency of a man who has killed before wonderfully. You are on this man's side from the start, despite the extreme measures he goes... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 19:36, 15 December 2009 | Report This Post


Harry Brown

Director Daniel Barber deserves credit for keeping the film grounded very much in reality, never descending to the OTT fighting of something like Taken. Caine is in his 70’s now, so it probably wouldn’t have been a wise move for him to attempt some hand-to-hand combat. What he does is portray the obvious vulnerability of your average pensioner and the efficiency of a man who has killed before wonderfully. You are on this man's side from the start, despite the extreme measures he goes... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 19:36, 15 December 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Clint Eastwood would be proud.

It was gritty, unsettling and fairly realisitc which is not at all surprising for British cinema but it's tempo was awfully slow and I felt it needed more overall emotion. Gran Torino is a far superior film in that department. 3/5 ... More

Posted by Goodfella at 19:22, 14 December 2009 | Report This Post


Clint Eastwood would be proud.

More believable than Gran Torino with has shades of Unforgiven as well as Dirty Harry. Terrific. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cameron1975Williams at 18:07, 01 December 2009 | Report This Post


Dirty Harry, er Brown

It's been compared to 'Gran Torino' but it lacks niether the charm nor humour. This is dark and depressing, cynicism at every turn (a society moraless, corrupt and nasty) and offers little reason or social comment. This is where the film falls down with a poor dialogue, a farcical police force (Mortimer in a supposed supporting role is cringefully bad) and provocatively set in a hell-hole estate in modern - day London. The audience needs to convince itself this is comic - book stuff. So ste... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gzus at 18:00, 29 November 2009 | Report This Post


Dirty Harry, er Brown

It's been compared to 'Gran Torino' but it lacks niether the charm nor humour. This is dark and depressing, cynicism at every turn (a society moraless, corrupt and nasty) and offers little reason or social comment. This is where the film falls down with a poor dialogue, a farcical police force (Mortimer in a supposed supporting role is cringefully bad) and provocatively set in a hell-hole estate in modern - day London. The audience needs to convince itself this is comic - book stuff. So ste... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gzus at 18:00, 29 November 2009 | Report This Post


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