Monday, December 12, 2011

Episode 81.5 - Harry Brown Review 7/10

Harry Brown - 2009 - Daniel Barber

This is a first for me. I felt so bad giving a movie the score I felt it deserved that I actually gave a dustbuster back so I could live with myself. ALL things considered, was Harry Brown a good movie? Not really. It had a shoddy plot filled with holes bigger than the even-Tarantino's-not-that-fucking-grossly-exaggerated entry wounds inflicted by the pistol bullets that occasionally flew across the screen. Did I enjoy Harry Brown though? You bet I did 'cause watching Michael Caine kick a bunch of dumb gang-member's asses is about as much fun as watching Morgan Freeman go on a cursing fit or watching Justin Beiber get shot in the chest on CSI.

Basically, Michael Caine plays as Harry Brown, an ex-marine (that's the British Royal Marines, mind you) that loses…I guess his wife (it might have been mentioned…maybe) and his good, also ex-marine friend, the latter due to violent crimes committed by a local drug-running gang that makes the neo-Nazi's in American History X look like girl scouts (that's the British Royal Girl Scouts, mind you). With nothing really to lose anymore, he decides to put his ol' military skills to good use and go on the warpath against these young hooligans because policemen are stupid and ignorant and pointless in a vigilante movie and they couldn't do this good of a job if they tried.

However, the problem is that even though they didn't try to assist, they did try to make things seem like they were bigger than they actually were and Harry Brown struggles to be content with an old man just killing dickheads. Instead, he is apparently taking down the entire syndicate, starting by killing the leaders of the gang…who we never meet until there's a bullet in their brain and working his way down and we're never really told how he figures out the identity of these people anyway. Of course, the cops are giving us that information but it's not like these two are working together or anything. It's not all Boondock Saints style; there's not really any hard work here that makes the kills all that sweet, and the movie veers off course way too much to continue to emphasize just how much of a shitty neighborhood everyone lives in…we got that guys, thanks. Just kills some fuckers.

Man, oh man, Caine does it with some freaking style too, sending a kid, beaten and bloodied, ankles tied together down a tunnel to confront his buddies while he stands in pure darkness at the end of it, waiting to blow everyone's brains out. That scene was awesome! So awesome that it obviously couldn't have been topped because that's pretty much the extent of the good killing. I guess when they ran out of creative ideas, they stopped trying and made it a stupid drama. Blah.

For that, the pacing in this movie sucked, throwing you back and forth between some epic crusade and the bullshit bureaucracy of the police force "investigating gun violence" like the Taliban "investigates bombs that go off without people attached to them." When it wanted to be fun to watch, it was, but it didn't happen nearly enough and I feel a little bit cheated by it. Even Harry Brown as a character struggled to seem heroic as opposed to a whiny old man who's better at guns than you are.

However, despite all of this, for some damn reason, I still enjoyed it. Like Speed Racer. Man, if I analyzed that movie it would get probably a 4 or a 5 from me, but the sheer enjoyment and action bumps it to an 8 for me. It was a movie going experience, and Harry Brown was a little bit of one too. If it remained consistent with action, it could have been SO much better. If it didn't try to be some grand crime-stopping crusade and instead stuck with "man on a quest to kill the fuckers that killed his friend," it could have been SO much better (see The Brave One). But no…just didn't have it. This was originally a 6…but fuck it. 7 dustbusters out of 10. Very generous.

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