Movie review: Harry Brown (2009)

The senselessness. That’s what I walked away with. The sheer senselessness. Dissolute lives. Broken lives. Upright lives. Good lives. All mixed together. In the end, goodness wins but you get the feeling that the win is temporary. The vacuum will be filled. And nothing erases or brings back what was lost.

Harry Brown centers on a man living in the midst of a world that he doesn’t seem to notice. His wife dies. His young teenage daughter died decades earlier. He inhabits a run down flat in a decrepit apartment complex, what seems like government housing that had seen better days.

After his friend points it out, he begins to notice the crime and drugs around him but stays uninvolved. That is, until his friend is killed by criminals and drug dealers. After ignoring this world, Harry thrusts himself into it, determined to track down and kill those that butchered his friend.

Michael Caine does an excellent job of portraying Harry Brown, an older widower with emphysema. Harry calls on his Marine training and experience with violence from an earlier period of his life.

Bits of the movie are quite disturbing. Eradication of criminal elements—both from inside and outside the law—are depicted as the answer, though societal issues and failings peek through the cracks.

In the end, I am not sure who really won. I sense that the battle will all start again easy enough.


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