MICHAEL CAINE EMILY MORTIMER
The British thriller Harry Brown is the first time I can remember where a European film has outright copied an American version. Oscar winner Michael Caine’s new vigilante suspense thriller has strikingly similar elements to Oscar winner Jodie Foster’s The Brave One. Anytime one film copies another whether its intentional or accidental, it’s bad news for the viewer who has to watch a story repeat, in this case with an accent and saggy skin. If you haven’t seen The Brave One, Harry Brown might be an exciting ride with its embrace of deserved violent retaliation from the weak.
A recent widower living in the bad side of town, elderly Harry Brown (Caine) stares out his apartment complex bewildered at the violence that takes place below. When an old friend of his is brutally murdered, Brown having little worth living for decides if the police won’t do anything about the drugs, violence and deviant behavior he will. Having served in the Marines, Brown is no stranger to force. It doesn’t take him long to find those responsible for his friend and other local murders, his old age doesn’t give away what’s about to happen to the young thugs he encounters until it’s too late and his business with them is finished.
Screenwriter Gary Young doesn’t use the type of feeling or characterization we saw with Foster’s deeply wounded role in The Brave One. Comparing the two films, this is more intro, shoot em’ up, conclude. The Brave One had almost a lullaby quality to it, deeply resonating and affecting the viewer long after the film was over. Here neither Caine nor the script do much to make us care about Harry Brown the person. Sure we admire him taking a stand and killing these punks, but in the 90 minute film we wouldn’t feel a huge loss if his character died. Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl, Transsiberian) steps into Terrence Howard’s role from The Brave One, but is far less important and barely impacts the script if nothing more than to fill time that Brown’s character cannot.
Director Daniel Barber directs this film as if he is a young film student being handed a real camera and talented actors for the first time, he however is not. He makes sure the scenes fit together well and that we have a beginning and an end, but other than that the scenes collide with little concern about originality. With a tiny $7million dollar budget, the film only made slightly over one million at the box office, compared to The Brave One’s $70 million dollar budget and $36 million box office in take. Both films lost money, one was praised the other not. Harry Brown isn’t a bad movie; it’s just Foster’s lukewarm leftovers.
Final Thought – The brave senior citizen.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih