Tag Archives: Vigilante

Review of Harry Brown (2009)

30 Aug

Harry Brown (2009) is a thriller/drama/crime film, following a Royal Marines veteran,  living on a housing estate that is rapidly descending into youth crime.

Directed by Daniel Barber (The Tonto Woman (2008 Short)).

Written by Gary Young (The Tournament (2009), The Last Drop (2006)).

Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, David Bradley, Iain Glen, Ben Drew, Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, Charlie Creed-Miles and others.

The first three minutes of the film are probably the most shocking part of the movie. I’m not saying it as a compliment or a put-down to the rest of the movie, it’s just that a few teenagers on motorbikes and drugs shoot at a woman with a baby, while filming it on a cellphone is a disturbingly realistic portrayal of modern senseless violence.

Then we see Michael Caine, whose life doesn’t get better from the point we are introduced to him. His wife is in a catatonic state in the hospital and soon passes away, from his window he can see young people dealing drugs and beating people up. His friend is pretty sick of the scum and tries to stand up to them and gets killed. Caine gets pretty pissed off about all this shit.

I liked that while the justice system is depicted as totally broken and retarded, the police isn’t portrayed as a bunch of incompetent donut eating morons.

Of course, there’s a breaking point, when Caine’s character Harry Brown decides to be a vigilante. He goes to a creepy drug dealer/junkie guy, who has a whole plantation of marijuana in his apartment. The junkies and violent kids are portrayed very realistically, so it’s kind of disgusting to watch and not only on a moral level.

It’s a lot like Death Wish, if the Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey character was older, only Harry exhibits more emotions, while doing these acts of vigilantism. It’s about an hour into the movie, when Harry actually starts being bad-ass. Yeah, you can say that this is a more thoughtful movie than Death Wish, but I don’t think there is that much of a difference. There’s even a scene where Harry is going after a guy and some shots on him chasing him on some stairs by a bridge, that are very similar to a scene in Death Wish. The elderly ex-soldier, who is sick of young violent kids is a theme that showed up in Gran Torino as well.

It’s interesting to put this movie in opposition to Attack the Block, which had a very similar setting, yet the juvenile delinquents were shown in a much more positive light. I’m not from UK, but the lower class occupied living apartment blocks are quite common where I live and the way the aggressive youth is portrayed in this movie, from my experience, seems a lot more accurate.

It is fitting that my last review was of Hobo With a Shotgun, a very different kind of movie, yet having the very same theme. It’s an interesting contrast, Harry Brown is less violent, while more disturbing, which is good, that this movie makes someone think, while Hobo is just dumb entertainment. On the other hand, Harry Brown never seemed to find the right balance of being an examination of youth violence and a bad-ass vigilante-thriller.  It might not be important to most people, but Harry Brown used CG blood effects, which always sort of detract from a movie for me personally.

Overall, nothing groundbreaking, a solid revenge/vigilante crime drama/thriller threading very familiar territory, but rests firmly on the always reliable Michael Caine. Recommended.

“You know I’m buying this gun to shoot scum like you?”
“All I know is that you look like Michael Caine. Where I’m from, you don’t argue with someone who looks like Michael Caine.”

Review of Magnum Force (1973)

24 Apr

Magnum Force (1973) is an action/crime/thriller film and the second in the Dirty Harry film series.

Directed by Ted Post (Hang ‘Em High (1968), Good Guys Wear Black (1978)).

Written by John Milius (Apocalypse Now (1979), Conan the Barbarian (1982)) and Michael Cimino (Heaven’s Gate (1980), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)).

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, Mitch Ryan, David Soul, Tim Matheson, Kip Niven, Robert Ulrich and others.

Detective „Dirty Harry” Callahan is back with his huge fucking Magnum. Need I say more?

I just loved the opening titles and the theme. After that we see Harry as always working and disobeying orders. He’s got a new partner, to which he is oddly nice, although we don’t see them being assigned as partners, so maybe they’ve been working together for a while now.

Eastwood shows what might be one of his best abilities. Making everything cool. There’s not many people who can make the elbow-patches on a jacket look bad-ass, but he does. One might argue, that other than being cool, he doesn’t do much else in the movie, but I’m not asking for anything else. Oh, and as if he wasn’t cool enough, a hot asian chick just randomly appears and a few minutes later is crawling into his bed. That lucky bastard.

In Dirty Harry, it seemed that Harry doesn’t like his nickname all that much, but now it appears that he enjoys the „dirty” work.

The interesting thing about these movies, is that except for the asshole cop Harry Callahan, they aren’t very connected. You can pick up any of the Dirty Harry movies and you won’t have any problems because of not knowing the back story and unless you’re afraid of getting confused by Eastwood’s age, you can watch the movies in whichever order you like.

They throw the n-word around quite a lot here and that is what I enjoy about the 70’s cinema. In a way it is the grittiest it has ever gotten. The golden/silver age sterility is destroyed and the political correctness of the last three decades hasn’t arrived. Not that I approve of the n-word. Although, since neither me or my ancestors have had anything to do with slavery, I don’t feel any white racial guilt. However, one thing Harry is not is homophobic, that is, if you can shoot well.

What I found the most intriguing about the concept, that the antagonist force Harry faces is also a vigilante one, so it plays more one the line of „how far is too far?”. This sort of pulls back Harry’s own fascist view of the world and states his policy of fighting crime in contrast of the Traffic-Cop Killer’s complete vigilantism. And although it sort of is obvious who is going around serving merciless justice, there’s a couple of unexpected turns to it.

A very young Suzanne Somers appears and shows her breasts at a pool party, but it just made me feel dirty as I enjoyed it and at the same time cringed as I remembered growing up watching her as the mom in Step by Step. It felt like I saw what I wasn’t supposed to.

It has a very exciting car chase, which is odd, since I’m not a big fan of car chases. What I loved about this one, was that it had no background music, so there’s just the sound of engines roaring, tyres screeching, guns blasting and nothing else.

Overall, this is my favourite Dirty Harry movie, I think it is better than the first one and it’s the most entertaining. Definitely recommended.

"Hey, Davis, you know how my last partner died?"
"Yeah, I heard he was sucked into a jet engine, why you ask?"
"No reason."

Review of Dirty Harry (1971)

4 Dec

Dirty Harry (1971) is a crime/thriller/action film that cemented Clint Eastwood’s image as an icon even more, this time putting him in the role of Harry Callahan, who, as the title implies, does the dirty work.

Directed by Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Escape from Alcatraz (1979)), who has worked with Eastwood on several instances.

Written by Harry Julian Fink (Major Dundee (1965), Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973)), Rita M. Fink (Big Jake (1971), Magnum Force (1973)), Dean Riesner (The Enforcer (1976), Play Misty for Me (1971)) . Julius Mills and Terrence Malick did uncredited work on the script.

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, John Vernon, Reni Santoni, John Mitchum and others.

If you don’t think Clint Eastwood is one of the coolest people who have ever lived, then I’m sorry, but you are either an idiot or not human. The fact that he’s so old and might die any day really makes me feel uneasy. And the Dirty Harry franchise has played a big part in establishing his iconic image in the pop-culture. If you open a dictionary and find “anti-hero” next to it is just a picture of Clint Eastwood.

And there’s many cool things to like in this film. Harry Callahan, the now archetypical cop that doesn’t play by the rules, Harry’s ridiculously large revolver, the amazingly bad-ass lines like “You’ve gotta ask yourself a question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?”, Eastwood’s face, the lunatic villain, Harry jumping on a school bus.

Speaking of the villain this is one of the best parts of the movie, because somehow this totally over-the-top performance by Andrew Robinson as the serial killer Scorpio works. But only by portraying him as this insane maniac, scenes like when he pays someone to beat him up work.

Plot-wise it really is a simple movie. When they catch the serial killer about halfway in, you know he’s going to somehow get out for everyone to realise the error of their ways. And at that point the movie really goes out of its ways to force the message by making the legal system way too liberal in handling this despicable criminal. By doing this they seem to make almost a fascistic stance, praising the idea of vigilantism and criticising the liberalism of the legislation system.

But talking about this aspect of the movie is, if not reading too deep, then at the very least an unnecessary thing to do, because in the end it works best as just an entertaining action movie and not a serious social commentary. Of course you can dislike its ham-fisted approach, but honestly, do you expect subtlety from this type of film?

Overall it is a good, solid movie about a cop who does the dirty work, because there’s no one else who will, and is carried by bad-ass one liner, Robinson’s overacting and Eastwood’s permanent scowl. Definitely recommended.

.44 Magnum, the gun that was made to be seen in 3D.