Michael Caine is Harry Brown. If that sentence carries a hint of action-movie menace, it’s not entirely misplaced. Caine’s Harry is eventually roused to awesome and satisfying vengeance, but this film begins in more troubling, nuanced territory.
Harry Brown lives alone, shut away in one of Britain’s bleak public-housing apartment blocks. As his wife lives out her last days in the hospital, Harry restricts his activities to games of chess in the pub with Leonard, his last best friend. All around them swarms chaos. Their housing estate has been taken over by warring gangs that deal drugs and settle scores with impunity. The police, represented here by upright detective Frampton (Emily Mortimer) and her cynical partner Hicock (Charlie Creed-Miles), are reduced to simply informing the victims’ families when the latest shooting or knifing occurs – visits that Hicock calls death-o-grams. [Synopsis courtesy of TIFF]