Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Harry Brown

A highly entertaining onscreen version of a tabloid's wet dream.

If you're of the opinion that films should be judged solely on their entertainment value, then you will probably give Harry Brown the thumbs up.

Any story about a seemingly harmless OAP turning into Death Wish-era Charles Bronson against the evils of the most barbaric council estate ever is guaranteed to pin most people to their seat.

If, however, you think that a film can't do without a feasible story line lest it all turn into a pile of bollocks, then no doubt you won't add Harry Brown to your list of personal favourites.

Too many elements in the film are unnecessarily OTT. Two examples. The bit where the arrests escalate into the biggest urban riots in the history of mankind, making the 1981 Brixton riots or Handsworth 1985 look like a tame pub brawl by comparison.

There's also the highly implausible chronic emphysema-suffering OAP in his late seventies strolling out of a deserted hospital (what did you say about the NHS being overstretched?) to make it back in a moment just in time to rescue a specific car in a specific car crash in the middle of Baghdad-style warfare.

But there's also the fact that Harry Brown is a tabloid's wet dream. It's as though the producers decided to consult our legendary DAILY MAIL REPORTER for added effect to a story centred around deprived council estates.

And in fact no-one is denying that Britain has a worryingly high number of dodgy estates. No-one, with the possible exception of this dying Labour government, could in their right mind play down the impact that some seriously brutal crimes have on communities as well as the fear and insecurity that reigns supreme amongst our older and more vulnerable citizens. And it's certainly commendable if more films set out to depict gritty realism.

But this is just too much. It's unbelievably over the top. You thought that knife crime and drug abuse were bad? Watch Harry Brown and you'll come to the conclusion that every council estate in the UK is populated with terror professionals casually carrying kalashnikovs, molotovs and hand grenades as they loaf about shitty underpasses.

There's the homosexual abuser, the idle tracksuit wearers, a completely wasted drug addict/dealer living in the midst of the biggest inner-city weed cultivation in history, gangs with their staffies and run-of-the-mill drive-by shooting. Add the penpushing and unsympathetic police and you've got each and every single unadulterated ingredient of a Daily Mail Best Of.

And, exactly like the Daily Mail, which can be quite entertaining to read (as long as you're aware of its industrial amounts of bullshit and exaggeration), Harry Brown will most certainly grab your attention. The acting certainly helps. While he may have lost a mark or two for his recent pre-election endorsement of the Tories, you can never fault Michael Caine for good acting and added entertainment.

Just hope they don't watch it abroad or else its consequences for the British Tourist Board may turn out even more devastating than a volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

this film came out like 6 months ago. why r u rewiewing it now?

claude said...

Why not?

Charlie said...

It came out on DVD fairly recently, why not review it? There's no statute of limitations on these things anyway.

I really shouldn't be replying to someone who writes 'r u' in their posts should I...