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I may like pretty clothes and wear make-up, but my taste in films is much less girly than that of many of my female friends. You can keep your romcoms and weepies. I enjoy a good thriller.
The main drawback with the genre is that, unlike comedies, familiarity with a thrillerâ€™s plot often means that repeat viewings arenâ€™t nearly as enjoyable as seeing it the first time round. This isnâ€™t true of them all, of course. There are what Iâ€™d call â€˜daftâ€™ thrillers like Con Air and Cliffhanger that Iâ€™ll never tire of watching, and then there are the classics like North by Northwest. As a rule, though, however much I enjoy a thriller I would rarely want to repeat the experience almost immediately. This wasnâ€™t the case with Harry Brown.
Michael Caine is coming up for seventy-eight but would pass for, well, seventy-four. Itâ€™s not until you see his sort of face that you realise how unusual it is to find wrinkles and jowls on our screens these days. From the get-go heâ€™s convincing as the eponymous Harry, a long-retired marine living out his days on a bleak housing estate, scared to use a nearby underpass because of the youths who hang around in it.
Harryâ€™s wife dies, and the victimisation of Len, his only remaining friend, by a gang culminates in Lenâ€™s murder. Cue Harryâ€™s decision to avenge this death, and so he goes out to buy a gun from a local drug dealer to blow the kids away.
So far so Deathwish, and at times you do get the feeling that this is too farfetched, that thereâ€™s no way some old codger would behave like this. But aside from Caineâ€™s stalwart performance, the film is made immensely watchable by the supporting cast and its striking visual qualities.
By far the most affecting (and disturbing) scene is when Harry goes to get his gun. Itâ€™s as though he travels through down through several layers of hell to reach the dealerâ€™s inner sanctum, where heâ€™s told to sit down next to a girl whoâ€™s overdosed and ignore her. Harry being Michael Caine, he just canâ€™t. Single-handedly he saves the girl and kills the bad guys, and goes on to dispatch several more.
Roger Ebert got it right when he wrote, â€˜This movie plays better than perhaps it shouldâ€™. As Iâ€™m typing this it sounds preposterous. But what a treat to see a new, British thriller (it was part-funded by the now-defunct UK Film Council) that shuns attractive locations and beautiful people. I canâ€™t wait to watch Harry Brown again, if only to see if I was mistaken the first time around.