Harry Brown is “a movie about the one guy who did something,” Michael Caine recently said to Movieline‘s Stu VanAirsdale. “The idea [in making it] was, If you don’t do something, then this is what innocent people will do.’
“A reporter said to me yesterday, ‘Have you ever seen this with a proper audience?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘When you kill those people, they all cheered.’ And I said, ‘That’s exactly what I’m talking about. That’s how far it’s gone.’ You’ve got to do something, because people are cheering the killing.”
Well…c’mon. People have been cheering the right killings for decades. If the bad guy is getting his, and if it feels just and righteous and satisfying, Average Joes are going to go “yeah!” and “woo-hoo!” People cheered the Death Wish killings back in ’73. People cheered when Dustin Hoffman started killing the home invaders in Straw Dogs. Audiences watching Day of the Dolphin cheered and laughed, even, when a crew of bad guys were blown up by a mine placed on the hull of their yacht by a dolphin. I’ve read somewhere that audiences howled their asses off when Grace Kelly shot Robert Wilke in the back in High Noon.
My initial reaction to Harry Brown, boiled down, was this: “Caine, an East End roughneck in his youth, knows how to eyeball the bad guys and give them all sorts of pain with magnificent conviction and style. The film satisfies as nicely in this regard as the confrontation scenes in Clint Eastwood‘s Gran Torino, if not more so.”