Harry Brown (film)

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Harry Brown
Harry Brown poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Daniel Barber
Produced by Matthew Vaughn
Kris Thykier
Matthew Brown
Keith Bell
Written by Gary Young
Starring Michael Caine
Emily Mortimer
Ben Drew
Charlie Creed-Miles
David Bradley
Jack O'Connell
Sean Harris
Music by Martin Phipps
Ruth Barrett
Pete Tong
Paul Rogers
Cinematography Martin Ruhe
Edited by Joe Walker
Marv Partners
UK Film Council
HanWay Films
Framestore Features
Distributed by Lionsgate UK
Release dates
  • 11 November 2009 (2009-11-11)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $7.3 million[1]
Box office $10.3 million[2]

Harry Brown is a 2009 British vigilante thriller film directed by Daniel Barber and starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Jack O'Connell, and Liam Cunningham. The story follows Harry Brown, a widowed Royal Marines veteran, who had served in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, living on a London housing estate that is rapidly descending into youth crime; Harry fights fire with fire after a friend is murdered.

The film also features actor and rapper Plan B who, with Chase & Status, is also responsible for the film's theme music track "End Credits."[3][4] Harry Brown had its World Premiere as a "Special Presentation" at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival[5] and was released theatrically in the United Kingdom by Lionsgate UK on 11 November 2009; the film was released in the United States by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Destination Films on 30 April 2010. The film was mainly filmed on and around the mostly abandoned Heygate Estate in Walworth, London;[6] which was due to be demolished in late 2010. The subway filming was at Marks Gate, East London.[7]


Harry Brown (Michael Caine), an elderly man who was once a decorated senior NCO in the Royal Marines and a veteran of Northern Ireland, currently lives on a London council estate ruled by violent gangs and spends most of his time playing chess in the local pub with his best friend, Len Attwell (David Bradley). Drugs are dealt openly in the pub. When the hospital phones to tell him that his wife, Kath, is dying, Harry is too late to see her one last time because he is too scared to take the quicker underpass route, where a gang holds court. His wife is laid to rest next to the grave of their thirteen-year-old daughter, Rachel, who died in 1973.

After her funeral, Len confides in Harry that he is being terrorised by some youths and shows Harry an old bayonet he now carries to defend himself, saying that the police would not help him and he plans on taking justice into his own hands. The next day, Harry is visited by Detective Inspector Alice Frampton (Emily Mortimer) and Detective Sergeant Terry Hicock (Charlie Creed-Miles), who tell him that Len has been murdered by a local gang. The leader of the gang, Noel Winters (Ben Drew) and his gang members Carl (Jamie Downey), Dean (Lee Oakes) and Marky (Jack O'Connell) are arrested for the murder, but released due to lack of evidence. After Len's funeral, Harry is held at knife-point by Dean, who intends to rob him. Harry stabs Dean with his own knife in self-defence during a brief struggle. Frampton visits Harry again the following morning and informs him that because Len was killed with his own bayonet, any charges could be reduced to manslaughter on the basis of self-defence.

Harry decides to take matters into his own hands; he follows a drug dealer named Kenny (Joseph Gilgun) to a squalid den where he negotiates to buy a pistol. Inside, Harry finds Kenny and his associate, Stretch (Sean Harris), are also growing cannabis and are sexually abusing a currently overdosing girl (Klariza Clayton) to make pornographic films. When Harry suggests calling an ambulance for the girl, Stretch threatens Harry, and he kills the dealers in retaliation, before burning down their den and leaving with the girl and some firearms in a stolen Land Rover.

After leaving the girl outside a hospital with a large sum of money taken from her abusers, Harry follows Marky, to find him being sexually abused by Troy Martindale, a heroin kingpin. Harry shoots and kills Martindale and captures Marky, whom he tortures into revealing some mobile phone camera footage of Len's murder, proving the gang did not kill Len in self-defence, but had already disarmed him before killing him with his own knife. Harry uses Marky to bait Noel and Carl into a gunfight in the underpass. Carl is killed by Harry, and Marky is killed in the crossfire between Harry and Noel. After Marky is killed, Noel flees the underpass, with Harry in pursuit, before Harry collapses due to an emphysema attack.

Frampton has worked out that Harry is the likely killer. However, convinced that the recent gang deaths are instead related to a gang war, Police Superintendent Childs (Iain Glen) arranges her transfer to an anti-identity-theft unit and orders a major arrest operation on the estate, which then results in a massive riot. Harry discharges himself from hospital to pursue Noel. Driving onto the estate to stop him, Frampton and Hicock are involved in a car crash in which Hicock is severely injured. Harry rescues them and takes them to the nearby pub, where Frampton warns Harry that Sid Rourke (Liam Cunningham), the landlord, is actually Noel's uncle. Harry discovers that Sid has been hiding Noel, but his guard drops due to his emphysema, allowing Sid to take the gun and reveal that he plans on killing Harry and the officers to protect Noel and also appears to be the gang's real leader. Frampton tries to call for backup, only to be stopped midway by Noel, who begins to strangle her after Sid suffocates an unconscious Hicock. After Harry draws a revolver and shoots Noel, Sid shoots and wounds Harry, only to be shot by police snipers, who have picked up Frampton's interrupted call.

At a press conference held after the riot, Superintendent Childs announces that Hicock is to be awarded a posthumous Queen's Gallantry Medal and Frampton is to be commended for their work and sacrifice, and denies any evidence of vigilante involvement in the entire case, saying that any such suggestions are unhelpful. Frampton leaves, evidently scarred by her experiences. The final scene is of a recovered Harry walking towards the underpass, now free and safe to walk through.



Harry Brown was met with mixed to positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 66% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 113 reviews, with an average score of 6.1/10,[8] critical consensus being, "Its lurid violence may put off some viewers, but Harry Brown is a vigilante thriller that carries an emotional as well as a physical punch, thanks to a gripping performance from Michael Caine in the title role."[9] Empire gave the film four stars out of five, The Sunday Times awarded it one; GQ magazine gave the film five stars out of five, calling it "truly awesome". The News of the World gave the film four out of five, The Daily Mail said "finally a film that really matters...Brilliant", and Shortlist called it "the best British film of the year".

The Times gave the film three stars but considered it "morally and politically repugnant". The Sunday Times was less positive: "It’s too daft to pass muster as action-movie hokum, let alone as social commentary." Cinema Blend praised the film, saying "Caine pours every ounce of himself into Harry, and the payoff is massive... There’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing a compelling story brought to life by standout performances and then further enhanced by stellar directing."[10] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four, and called the film "...a revenge thriller poised somewhere between Death Wish and Gran Torino."[11] As of December 20, 2009 the film had earned $6,649,562 domestically, opening against 2012 and Disney's A Christmas Carol. As of August 8, 2010, total worldwide gross was nearly $10 million including $1,818,681 in the United States, where it opened against A Nightmare on Elm Street.[12]


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