Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Harry Brown

We go into revenge thrillers knowing what to expect, with audience manipulation being among the expectations. Therefore, if we treat them as an acting showcase for the star, the payoff can be great, and Michael Caine proves that a great actor can elevate most any material, no matter how grotesquely violent it may be. Caine plays the title character, an ex-servicemen with a dying wife, and after the gang murder of his best mate, he has nothing to left to lose and begins to take out the junkie drug dealing slime who infest his apartment complex. In addition to these clichés, add to the list the lone cop who suspects a pensioner vigilante, her partner who doesn’t buy it but eventually comes around, and an entire police force who misreads the situation entirely. What is not standard however is Caine’s (usual) magnetic and restrained performance where he makes us believe, like Clint did in Gran Torino, that a geriatric could take out a band of thugs and bring peace to a turbulent neighborhood.