|Whoops I kinda made Michael Caine look like a Dracula|
I'm going to go ahead and accept that this movie is Batman Canon; that Alfred, after the events of The Dark Knight Rises, moved back to Britain, got old, and became a badass. Anyways, who doesn't like old Michael Caine as a cap-poppin' badass? And there is that! But not quite a lot of it. I was expecting a fairly lengthy revenge tear of Michael Caine slowly but surely spiraling into darkness. But it's short.
And all that's there is pretty good, there's just not enough of it. See, Harry has a dark past in the military that he swore he would leave behind forever for his wife. But now that his wife is dead and this is the world that he's living in, he's deciding whether or not it's good or righteous to bring it back. That's interesting! But we don't get enough of Harry wondering how deep he should go, the depths he's gone to, and if it's worth it to come back from the brink or go all in. He's also struggling with being an old man. He's got chronic asthma that's become a serious medical problem. But again, barely get to delve into it.
There's also the side story of the female investigator, Alice Frampton (played by Emily Mortimer), trying to track him down. That's another interesting take, though a bit trope, but it also feels like we're missing something. We get a sense that there's a reason behind why she's in this department and why it's so important to her to bring this vigilante to justice, even though Harry might be doing them a favor, but we never find out what that is. Was she a vigilante herself and she was reprimanded and is now trying to correct her wrong? Does she have a delinquent relative so she understands the other side of the story? Did she lose a friend or a partner in a vigilante-esque case? Toss us a bone here!
There also seems to be some of stuff about hoodlums and riots and the lower class being discontent but it's just sort of visually suggested and not actually mentioned in any kind of detail. I feel like if I lived in Britain or I knew more about the problems there it would mean more, but just as it is now, it's not enough to really say anything. They don't go into why hoods are smoking crack and turning to crime, we just see a couple of events from their point of view. It doesn't delve into their lives like Attack the Block does.
With this type of movie dealing with subjects such as gang violence, revenge, discontent, riots, and vigilantism, you can set yourself up for a meaningful yet rough ending. Unfortunately for Harry Brown, the ending comes pretty quickly and is too easily resolved. It could have been a really gut-wrenching tearjerker, but instead it took the easy action route. It's kind of disappointing.
On the other hand, even though it's a short ride, it's still an enjoyable one. Michael Caine of course delivers on some great performances AND as being a badass. The rest of the cast does an admirable job too. And for all you Game of Thrones fans, this has two GoT actors! That's fun to see. There are a couple of very cool scenes where Alfred could teach Bruce a thing or two. And it's also shot and paced very well, aside from being a tad too fast. The movie has a penchant for being very still and quiet, and then all of a sudden being EXTREMELY LOUD AND CRAZY. And that's very effective as a dramatic tool. Very well done and all. And it has a pretty nice moody soundtrack with a surprisingly upbeat credits song.
So Harry Brown. It's pretty good, but the portion is so small. Really, I guess I just wanted it to be The Limey but with Michael Caine. So it's not bad if you love Michael Caine and Michael Caine being a badass, but if you want the same kind of story and experience but better, go watch The Limey.
THE GOOD: Michael Caine, good action, interestingly shot, GoT cast members, pretty good story, Michael Caine is a badass.
THE BAD: Not enough Michael Caine being a badass, too short, the ending could have been better.
THE VERDICT: $$$ It's good, it's Michael Caine, but it's not enough Michael Caine to satisfy. Maybe see it, maybe go back and watch The Dark Knight with snarky Alfred.
MOVIES LIKE IT: The Limey, The Brave One, The Dark Knight, Leon the Professional, Taken, Attack the Block
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Harry gets drunk after hearing about his friend's death. As he stumbles in the dark street, he's accosted by a hoodlum brandishing a knife. He demands Harry give him his wallet. Harry looks a bit confused for a bit, then all at once, almost by accident, he thrusts the knife (still with the hoodlum holding it) into the hoodlum's chest. You don't mess with Michael Caine.