Although the story takes place in a rough neighbourhood of England, it can very well be one of any major cities in the world. Truthfully, however safe a city is, there are pockets one just never ventures out, especially, after dark.
A public housing project with a mix of retirees and unemployed youths that terrorize public places, and the police usually does little other than the usual superficial paperwork and interrogations. No CSI unit, no cordoned crime-scene…it’s a revolving doors for the kids who get prosecuted, and at best they will get manslaughter, but never murder. That is the turning point for our vigilante pensioner, Harry Brown (Michael Caine), when he hopes for justice for the death of his friend and chess mate, Leonard Attwell (David Bradley), but hears otherwise from D.I. Alice Frampton (Emily Mortimer). With the passing of his wife shortly before, there is nothing more to lose for Harry, if he takes justice in his own hands. So he does!
The fifteen minutes in a marijuana grow-op is quite unsettling to watch. Harry is there to purchase a gun…but he ends up saving a girl and killing the operators. Who is Harry? an ex-marine who combated in Northern Ireland.
With the killings and factory being blow-up, the police has to be involved, even though they love to do something else instead. S.I. Childs (Iain Glen) undermines D.I. Alice Frampton‘s work, cause he thinks Alice is incompetent and letting the whole investigation blows in his face, and now he has to clean up the mess. Alice is probably the last person that still believes in police work, even her partner D.S. Terry Hicock (Charlie Creed-Miles), condemns her for not turning a blind-eye, especially whoever is doing it is doing the police a favour if not more.
There is a twist in the last 10 minutes when Harry rescues D.I. Alice Frampton and D.S. Terry Hicock from a three cars pile-up during a riot on the street into the neighbourhood bar that he goes often. The bar owner is Sid Rourke (Liam Cunningham), and Noel Winters (Ben Drew) is the one who kills Leonard documented in his mate’s, Marky (Jack O’Connell), cellphone. I believe I have already given away too much of the last 10 minutes, so please watch it! It’s quite tense.
There are a lot of references of today’s social ills, and there is no geographical boundaries…we are all living with them in our cities. The choice is ours, ignore them or do something ?! Out of all, the remarkable commentary perhaps is about the ignorance of self-incrimination, i.e., recording and documenting criminal acts…as Brown says, ” …this is entertainment…”. How chilling?!