Director: Daniel Barber
Cast: Ben Drew, Charlie Creed-Miles, David Bradley, Emily Mortimer, Iain Glen, Jack O’Connell, Liam Cunningham, Michael Caine, Sean Harris
Harry Brown (Michael Caine) is an old man living on a council housing estate (public housing for those outside of Britain). This is a sink estate as imagined by white liberals, a place filled with what they fondly but mistakenly assume is the entire paraphernalia of such estates: gangs of youngsters causing trouble, drug dealers, knife and gun violence. (The reality of such estates is that they are (1) very much not the norm and (2) you can readily survive on them if you keep your body language confident and you‘re streetwise. I have taken many a middle class pal into such territory and you can smell the fear on them even in broad daylight).
Harry’s one friend Len (David Bradley) is knifed to death by a gang and Harry, an ex marine, goes on a vigilante rampage including multiple killing and torture. Shades of the Death Wish films? Gran Torino in South London? Well, not quite.
This is a profoundly dishonest film. Not only does it take an absurdly hysterical middleclass view of working class communities, it tells a deliberate and calculated if implicit lie about the evils it purports to condemn. The implicit lie is that gang crime on poor estates is white crime, that gun crime is white crime, that knife crime is white crime, that drug dealing is white crime.
It is a lie because these activities are overwhelmingly black crimes in Britain 2009. So prevalent is black gun and knife crime the Metropolitan Police (the London police force) have a special unit called Trident to investigate black on black killings, most of which are gun and knife related. (For two years I wrote a column for the sadly now defunct Right Now! Magazine entitled “The joy of diversity” for which I kept newspaper cuttings of ethnic mayhem. For a couple of months I kept a parallel file of similar white crimes. There wasn’t a single white knife or gun killing reported by the media during that time. )
To enhance the lie, the action takes place on a South London estate which in real life is at the heart of a black ghetto. Despite this there is scarcely a black face to be seen in the film, a glaring fact studiously avoided by mainstream British film critics. The identified killers of Harry’s friend are white, the gangs on the estate are white, the drug dealers are white, the gun dealers are white, the innocent bystanders are white. It’s a miracle.
There is one black face, but he is not seen doing anything actually reprehensible even though he is associated with the killers. He is interviewed by the police after the killing of Len, but that is primarily to allow him to put the routine black excuse in Britain for carrying guns and knives, viz: “It’s for protection”. I say he is black, but he is black in the sense that Obama is black, that is not so black as to frighten the Caucasian middle-class liberal bigot horses.
The pc agitprop does not finish there. The police assigned to investigate the murder of Harry’s friend are a man and a woman, a Detective Sergeant and Inspector. Guess who is the inspector. That’s right, it’s the woman played by Emily Mortimer, a distinctly improbable circumstance even in today’s ostensibly pc worshipping Metropolitan Police . She also get a good kicking and punching at the end of the film, behaviour which displays another one of the truly obscene consequences of feminism, namely, that women engaging in masculine behaviour or in a traditionally masculine role are validated by acting as and being treated as men. Personally, I could quite happily get through life without seeing women brutally punched in the face and kicked in the ribs after they have fallen to the ground, but, hey, I suppose that makes me incorrigibly old fashioned. This type of moral abdication is not, of course, restricted to women in film , but can be found in films such as Munich and Inglourious Basterds where the grossly immoral behaviour of Arab terrorists and Nazis is used to justify equally brutal and immoral behaviour by Jews against Arabs and Germans, in the latter case against Germans in general including the beating to death with a baseball bat of a defenceless German soldier who refuses to betray his fellow soldiers by giving away their whereabouts. .
Just to put the cherry on the pc cake, when talking with the police about his Northern Ireland as a Royal Marine experience as compared with what he meets with on the estate Harry retails the Sinn Fein/IRA line of “At least they [Sinn Fein IRA] were fighting for a cause, these people are fighting for nothing”. Shades of Rebel Without a Cause.
But it is not all self-conscious pc propaganda. The film also displays the modern white liberal’s hatred and fear of the British white working class, a sub-class of humanity from which modern white liberals consider themselves to be firmly divorced. Consequently, the gang members and their hangers-on are all portrayed as not only vicious and uncontrolled, but slovenly and physically unappealing. This is a routine behaviour of elites who commonly despise those weaker than themselves, for example, look at the portrayal of peasants in Renaissance paintings and you will find them almost uniformly represented as ugly. (The undercurrent to this divorce of the white liberal elite and the white working class is the elite’s knowledge that they have betrayed the white working class through incontinent mass immigration and the remorseless application of political correctness, the consequences of which the rich white liberal fastidiously avoids).
There are other problems with the film. Caine is very good at playing the ruthless hard man, hard both physically and mentally, as he showed in Get Carter and Mona Lisa, but he is now too physically infirm to be convincing as an action man. He goes from being a complete outsider from the criminal fraternity to suddenly knowing where to get guns – try to get yourself a gun in Britain if you aren’t in the criminal know and the most likely supplier you will encounter is an under-cover copper. He can immediately use a modern weapon without training despite not having been a marine for at least 30 years. Weapons technology moves on in 30 years Mr Director,
I can’t say this is film not worth seeing because Caine is always worth watching and Emily Mortimer is an engaging actress. There is also Ben Drew, as the leader of the gang which kills Harry’s friend, who does what all natural film actors do, inhabitants the screen without trying. The action moves at a decent pace and the script is taut. Technically it is a good film. Go and see it but recognise it for what it is, a piece of good liberal bigot agitprop.