Harry Brown 2009

Critics score:
64 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: Harry Brown lets Michael Caine show us his action-hero side one more time in a film that Charles Bronson would have been proud to call his own. Read more

A.O. Scott, At the Movies: Here are these terrible social problems, these kids dealing drugs and disrespecting their elders. What are we going to do about it? Just blow their heads off. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: Michael Caine makes not a single interpretive misstep in the British thriller Harry Brown. The tragedy is that the performance comes to nothing. Nearly everything else in the film is vile. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: Harry Brown is a mean and exceedingly well-made little B-picture, but the questions it raises are far too complex to answer with a gunshot. Read more

David Fear, Time Out: We like our secondhand vengeance as sleazy and bloody as the next grindhouse fiend, but even an intentional throwback shouldn't feel content to coast on so much deja vu. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: Caine makes a grave, soulful vigilante avenger, and first-time director Daniel Barber gives the film a dank, streaky, genuinely unnerving palette. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: Caine, that master of gentle sadness, lets us know Harry immediately as a good man trying to get by -- and trying to understand what seems like madness. Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: Caine's weary, quietly towering performance as a lonely widower who does battle with local hooligans is a classic case of lipstick on a pig, obscuring the film's roots as simple-minded, reactionary swill of the Death Wish school. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: It's simply the tale of a man who decides to do something and sticks to his guns, so to speak. That the man is played by Michael Caine is what makes it worthwhile. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: After a long run of baroquely plotted crime dramas like Layer Cake and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, it's a little depressing to come across a vigilante drama whose sole twist is its protagonist's advanced age. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: Caine is magnificent as the title character, combining the sentiment of his more recent screen persona with the steely resolve he exhibited as an action hero in the 60s and 70s. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: Caine acts dignified throughout, but there's no way to dignify dreck. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: Such familiarity can breed contempt among all but the most bloodthirsty, and it would in Harry Brown as well if not for Caine, who somehow breathes life into the most cardboard of characters. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: Part punk-drab British art-house portrait of underclass despair, part bloody vigilante pic, Harry Brown is shakily held together by industrial-strength sound design and the expertly employed theatrics of Michael Caine in the title role. Read more

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: It's a strong directing debut for Barber, who uses the poignant power of Harry's experience to take a universal cut at decaying communities and the poverty of soul as well as pocket. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: While the vicarious excitement of seeing a citizen mete out rough justice can be decried, it can't be denied. Read more

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: It thankfully strips away the veneer of glamour that Guy Ritchie and his imitators have applied to British crime films over the last decade or so. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: The ugly stuff in this movie is so over the top that sometimes you are forced to stifle a laugh, but the star always comes through. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: Working itself into a lather of confrontation and conspiratorial hooey, Harry Brown ends in a cross fire of incredulity and cliche. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: Directed as a debut by Daniel Barber, it places story and character above manufactured "thrills" and works better. We are all so desperately weary of CGI that replaces drama. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: In Gran Torino, Eastwood took on the moral issues that screenwriter Gary Young and first-time director Daniel Barber studiously avoid. It's the difference between riveting and repellent. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Caine's impeccable performance gives the film unlikely stature. It's impossible to imagine the movie without him. Read more

Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: When it comes to combining vulnerability and menace, nobody does it quite like Caine. Read more

Rick Groen, Globe and Mail: On one side, it's all compellingly believable; on the other, it's simply incredible. We do our best to straddle the rift but, in the end, the gulf proves too wide, the contrast too great, and a tumbling movie takes us down with it. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: The film ranks right up there with Sleuth, Get Carter and Mona Lisa as being amongst Cainea(TM)s toughest and best performances. Read more

Mary F. Pols, TIME Magazine: Caine remains a sublimely enjoyable actor to watch. He's so smooth, even when he's playing rough, that he can convince you that you're watching something artistic rather than just a prettily rendered piece of peculiar formula... Read more

Hank Sartin, Time Out: Read more

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: As narrative - and moral - maths go, this is a cooking of the books that sidesteps any smart commentary on real life. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: It's unnerving entertainment for those watching, steeped as it is in realistic-looking, senseless violence. But this portrait of the soldier as an old man is deeply moving. Read more

Ella Taylor, Village Voice: Director Daniel Barber's lame handwringing about the root causes of youthful alienation forms a thin veneer over the real purpose of this self-important piece of rubbish -- to hold us hostage to the director's bottomless appetite for spurious depravity. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: Michael Caine delivers a stunning performance in Harry Brown, a rancid little revenge fantasy that probably doesn't deserve him. Read more