If you have been reading here for awhile, you probably noticed that I complained about “John Carter” being a terrible title for a movie that–literally–spanned universes (and wanted desperately to play on an epic scale)?
It was, though there are films where simple is best.
“Charlie Varrick” is one, and Daniel Barber’s “Harry Brown” is another. They work because both eponymously-named films are about men who’ve lives are as ordinary, and mundane, as their names (though that applies more to ‘Brown’ than ‘Varrick’). Michael Caine plays the character with an understated, weary gait. He’s seen more of the world than he lets on, and is not impressed. He’s old, but accepts that and other things which is cannot change.
At this point the only things that he lives for are his wife, who’s in hospital, and a friend that lives in the same complex as he does.
One day his friend comes to him, and tells him that he’s afraid because of some neighborhood toughs, though eventually circumstances force him to take matters into his own hands.
Which he does not enjoy doing–after all, he’s an old man with emphysema,who can barely run without an attack coming on– but Michael Caine plays the character with the right amount of desperation and mortality.
Comparisons to Michael Winner’s “Deathwish” are inevitable, but Caine’s Harry Brown isn’t as calculating as “Deathwish’s” Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson), and he only kills those that either have terrorized his friend, or threaten where he lives.
The change in scale is what makes “Harry Brown” that more realistic and interesting of the two films.