The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 103 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, English
Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed Miles, David Bradley, Iain Glen, Sean Harris
Directed by: Daniel Barber
Music by: Martin Phipps & Ruth Barrett
Written by: Gary Young
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 31, 2010
"Every man has a breaking point"
Harry Brown is an ordinary, law-abiding citizen, who just wanted to quietly live out his retirement. But in this desolate urban wasteland, the residents live in fear of the drug dealers who rule the streets...and the police offer little protection. When Inspector Alice Frampton can't convict the thugs who killed Harry's best friend, he decides to take the law into his own hands. Using skills honed as a Royal Marine, Harry begins to serve his own brand of justice-- and no one will stop him.
I personally find vigilante justice to be a heartwarming concept although in my line of work I guess that would be considered wrong. I have a clear recollection of seeing Death Wish during its theatrical run in the early seventies. I was ten at the time and seeing the depiction of violence, how it affected Paul Kersey, and his reaction made an impression on me. In that story Kersey goes on the prowl for criminals but never comes across those responsible for the death of his wife and daughter. In Harry Brown his purpose is more specific as he targets those directly responsible not only for the death of his closest and only friend Len (David Bradley) but for turning the estate (apartment complex/projects) where he lives into a place where ordinary people are afraid to walk the streets. Suffice it to say this is a concept that has seen its share of celluloid and this film sticks to the same formula.
I like its homogeneous plot which isn't watered down by too many variables. Screenwriter Gary Young and director Daniel Barber present a thematically and visually graphic world in Harry Brown. The opening sequence was pretty disturbing and set the tone for the type of anarchy that would eventually drive a soft spoken pensioner to a point where his only perspective is an eye for an eye. Early on Harry is seen as a loving husband/father and devoted friend with compassion, who carries his share of emotional baggage but finds balance in his life by burying the pain of his past. The degradation of safety and the quality of life in his neighborhood doesn't go unnoticed by Harry but as a senior citizen he has little recourse other than to conform, or so it would seem. It's when his close friend Len is viscously and fatally attacked the he sees the malice and depraved indifference to humanity which flips a switch within him that compels action. Those responsible have no idea of the worthy adversary that now stalks them looking to exact revenge using the skills he honed over a half century ago. It will take the work of a sympathetic yet dedicated police officer to put things together before it's too late.
Harry Brown is a taut thriller that is expertly paced and told via a thematically dark, brutal and visceral narrative that some may find disturbing. I found it to be evocative and gripping at times thanks to the superlative performance by Michael Caine and the strong supporting cast of street toughs/ne'er-do-wells, especially Ben Drew who created an air of genuine disdain for their characters. I like Emily Mortimer and found her portrayal of the well intentioned police inspector Alice Frampton to be credible but reminiscent of almost every other role I have seen her in. Harry Brown's brand of vigilante justice may not be inventive but it's an evocative and poignant thriller that makes an excellent addition to the genre.
The rating is for strong language and violence throughout, drug use and sexual content.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Harry Brown comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
This video presentation has a filmic quality that doesn't lend itself to bright, high gloss imagery, and the color palette isn't a diverse one and sticks primarily to de-saturated neutral tones that render a cooler appearance that mates well with the subject matter. Flesh tones fit right in with the visual style of the video and offer little in the way of complexional variation. Contrast is spot on and black levels range from punchy to elevated which washes some scenes out. The film uses lots of low light interior and exterior scenes. Detail in backgrounds and staggered lighting is revealing of varying levels of delineation that can be scene dependent. Resolution is stable with appreciable fine rendering during close ups and less definitive long range visuals that offered two dimensional depth.
The is a deceptively good DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that features crystal clear dialogue, powerful dynamics and a subtle, yet strong surround sound mix. I was impressed with the implementation of both spacial dimension and discrete directional sounds that created a realistic and occasionally immersive listening environment. This worked hand in hand with film's music, and source material, to build tension and help drive the story. Be sure to turn this one up when the action kicks in.
This title includes Sony's Movie IQ feature which requires a BD-Live connection and allows fans the option of viewing continuously updated details on the cast and crew and to explore relevant trivia such as production facts, music, and soundtrack information which are tied into scenes in the movie.
- (HD) 7 deleted scenes
- Audio commentary with director Daniel Barber, producer Kris Thykier and Michael Caine
- BD-Live enabled
Harry Brown is a taut, evocative and poignant thriller that is expertly paced and told via a thematically dark, brutal and visceral narrative that some may find a little disturbing. I found its homogeneous plot and graphic depiction to be very involving and thoroughly entertaining thanks to a superlative performance by Michael Caine. Sony continues to support the Blu-ray Disc format by delivering high quality audio/video presentations and Harry Brown is no exception. The bonus features include an excellent audio commentary and Sony's interactive Movie IQ. Harry Brown isn't the kind of film that reinvents the genre but it makes for great way to spend an evening. Recommended.
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