Harry Brown (film)

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Harry Brown
Harry Brown poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDaniel Barber
Written byGary Young
Produced byMatthew Vaughn
Kris Thykier
Matthew Brown
Keith Bell
CinematographyMartin Ruhe
Edited byJoe Walker
Music byMartin Phipps
Ruth Barrett
Pete Tong
Theo Green
Paul Rogers
Marv Partners
UK Film Council
HanWay Films
Framestore Features
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • 12 September 2009 (2009-09-12) (Premiere)
  • 11 November 2009 (2009-11-11) (Theatrical)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$7.3 million[1]
Box office$10.3 million[1]

Harry Brown is a 2009 British vigilante action-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. After a violent gang murders his friend, Harry decides to take justice into his own hands.

The film also features actor and rapper Plan B, who recorded the film's theme music track "End Credits" with Chase & Status.[2][3] Harry Brown premiered on 12 September 2009 as a "Special Presentation" at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival[4] 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.


Elderly pensioner Harry Brown, a decorated Royal Marine and a veteran of Northern Ireland, lives on a London council estate ruled by violent gangs and spends most of his time playing chess with his friend, Len Attwell, at a local pub owned by Sid Rourke. When the hospital phones to tell him that his wife, Kath, is dying, Harry is too late to see her due to fear of taking a shortcut through a pedestrian underpass, where a gang resides. His wife is buried next to the grave of their thirteen-year-old daughter, Rachel, who died in 1973.

Len confides to Harry that he is being terrorised by youths and shows him an old bayonet he now carries to defend himself; with the police unable to help, he plans to confront his harassers himself. The next day, Detective Inspector Alice Frampton and Detective Sergeant Terry Hicock visit Harry and inform him that Len has been murdered. The police arrest Noel Winters, the leader of a drug-dealing gang, along with members Carl, Dean and Marky, but they are released due to insufficient evidence. Harry gets drunk after Len's funeral, and Dean then holds him at knife-point, intending to rob him; Harry kills Dean with his own knife during a brief struggle. Frampton visits Harry in the morning to inform him that because Len was killed with his own bayonet, any charges could be reduced to manslaughter based on self-defence, infuriating Harry.

Harry follows a drug dealer, Kenny, to a den where he negotiates to buy a pistol. Inside, Harry finds Kenny and his associate, Stretch, growing cannabis and sexually abusing an overdosing girl to make pornographic films. Harry kills the dealers before burning down their den, fleeing with the girl and a bag of firearms. He leaves the girl outside a hospital, and then follows Marky, killing a drug dealer who is sexually abusing him. He then tortures Marky into revealing some mobile phone camera footage of Len's murder, proving the gang did not kill Len in self-defence. Harry uses Marky to bait Noel and Carl into a gunfight in the underpass; Carl and Marky are killed, and Harry pursues a fleeing Noel, only to collapse from an emphysema attack. Harry is found and taken to hospital.

Frampton has deduced that Harry is behind all the recent shootings, but her boss—Superintendent Childs—is instead convinced that they are all part of an escalating gang war. Childs orders a major police operation on the estate, which ignites a riot. Harry discharges himself from the 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 Sid's pub, where Frampton warns Harry that Sid is actually Noel's uncle. Harry discovers that Sid has been hiding Noel, but his guard drops due to his emphysema, allowing Sid to disarm him and reveal himself as the gang's real leader. Sid suffocates Hicock to death, and Noel begins to strangle Frampton. A weak Harry draws a concealed revolver and kills Noel; Sid prepares to kill Harry in retaliation only for police snipers to shoot him dead.

At a press conference after the riot, Superintendent Childs announces that Frampton and Hicock are to be awarded, but stresses there is no evidence a vigilante was involved. Harry walks towards the now quiet and gang-free underpass.



The film was shot mainly in and around the abandoned Heygate Estate in Walworth, London.[5][6] At the time of filming, it was due to be demolished,[7] which did not happen until early 2014.[8] The subway scenes were shot at Marks Gate, London.[9]


On Rotten Tomatoes 63% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 127 reviews, with an average score of 6/10. The website's critical consensus states, "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."[10] On Metacritic it has a score of 55% based on reviews from 35 critics.[11] Empire gave the film four stars out of five.[12] GQ magazine gave it five stars out of five, calling it "truly awesome."[citation needed]

The Times gave the film three stars but considered it "morally and politically odious."[13] The Sunday Times was less positive, giving it one star: "It's too daft to pass muster as action-movie hokum, let alone as social commentary."[citation needed] 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."[14] 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."[15] As of 20 December 2009 the film had earned $6,649,562 in the UK market opening against 2012 and Disney's A Christmas Carol. As of 8 August 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.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Harry Brown (2010)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  2. ^ Barnes, Ruth (13 October 2009). "Caine's chill out". BBC 6 Music. BBC.
  3. ^ Chase and Status (29 September 2011). "End Credits ft. Plan B". VEVO.
  4. ^ Vanairsdale, S.T. (13 September 2009). "Michael Caine Gets Cheeky, Vengeful at Harry Brown Premiere". Movieline. PMC. Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. So announced a modest set of opening credits last night in Toronto, where Caine's vigilante drama premiered at the Elgin Theater.
  5. ^ "Movies filmed in | Enjoy the best film locations in with filmaps". Filmaps.com. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  6. ^ "South London's Heygate estate mourned by locals – and Hollywood", The Guardian, 3 September 2010
  7. ^ Surtees, Joshua (26 March 2010). "Gallery: The last days of Elephant and Castle's 1970s housing project". the Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Heygate Estate demolition enters final stage". BBC News. 13 February 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  9. ^ Sahin, Sukran (2 November 2010). "A new dawn for blighted estate". Barking and Dagenham Post. Early last year, the subway was the scene setter for Harry Brown
  10. ^ "Harry Brown (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Harry Brown". Metacritic. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  12. ^ Mark Dinning (29 October 2008). "Harry Brown". Empire (film magazine).
  13. ^ Maher, Kevin (13 November 2009). "Harry Brown". The Times. Times Newspapers. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  14. ^ Nemiroff, Peri. "Harry Brown". CinemaBlend. Gateway Blend. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (28 April 2010). "Harry Brown". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 10 April 2018.

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