Harry Brown Blu-ray Review
PictureHarry Brown looks absolutely tremendous on Blu-ray. Coming to the High Definition format with a 1080p rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1, despite its limited budget and despite the fact that it is a debut directorial effort, it looks pretty damn fine. For indie flicks, it does not get much better than this in terms of presentation. Detail is excellent throughout, with pristine clarity, no noticeable softness, negligible edge enhancement and simply no defects whatsoever. The aged lines on the main cast come across perfectly, and the gritty urban youth look it scarily accurate. The colour scheme is often skewed in favour of certain tones - the toilet sequence has green hues, the pub is slightly more yellow, the river path is lit by orange streetlights and the dealer's greenhouse is lime green with the cannabis plants almost glowing. If there was any quibble, it's the one I've already noted in the main text - the CG still stands out. Whether it's the smoke sequence (which is just about acceptable) or the numerous bloody gunshots, the CG is a little too 'Sin City' for this kind of movie, and often looks over the top. Still, the presentation shouldn't really be blamed too much for that, and with solid blacks that make for excellent night time segments, this is a brilliant presentation.
SoundOn the aural front things are also pretty decent, with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround track doing its best with what is relatively limited material (at least in comparison to your average Hollywood blockbuster). The dialogue is clear throughout, even if you may occasionally need subtitles to translate the 'gangspeak', mostly emanating from across the fronts and centre channels, with the odd scream or shout drawing your attention from the surrounds. The effects are mostly of the subtle variety, and the atmospherics definitely play second fiddle to the superior score, with only the more punchy noises - most notably the gunshots, but also the hectic finale - really creating some chaos in your living room. The surrounds get a sporadic workout from all this, and the LFE channel even gets a look in. The haunting score is from the 'Sunshine' school of scores, pitch-perfect for the material, and adding some weight to the proceedings, all culminating in that excellent Plan B track.
ExtrasAudio Commentary with Michael Caine
The Audio Commentary is amazing. It is perhaps the best audio commentary that I have ever listened to. The whole group of the Director, Producer and, of course, the star Michael Caine are tremendously entertaining, offering up a few titbits into the production but mainly making hilarious comments throughout. Caine is on top form, from mocking the tiny credits he got at the beginning to his self-depreciating look at his own contribution. But he's not just funny, he also gives us some great little insights into his acting methods - including the one memory that he always goes back to every time he wants to cry for a scene - and plenty of interesting anecdotes. The roundtable discussion on the rose-tinted view Americans, generally, have of London is also extremely insightful. It's fantastic stuff, thoroughly engaging throughout, and whilst it may be a little thin on the technical front, there's enough in there for those more interested in how the film was made. Honestly though, Caine has a great sense of humour and a wonderful manner of storytelling and it really does make this a great listen, so if you like your Commentaries then it doesn't get much better than this.
There are some 17 minutes of Deleted Scenes, which could have all been added back into the movie (save for the removal of the visible boom mic) but were clearly cut for pacing reasons. The 'where was God' scene with Harry discussing the loss of his wife, daughter and best friend with the priest is a great little moment with Caine, but the majority of this footage - a 'ghost' sequence, and a couple of extended segments - whilst worth checking out, is probably fine left excised.
We get Interviews with all of the main cast members: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Liam Cunningham, Ben Drew and Jack O'Connell, as well as the Director Daniel Barber. Totalling some 43 minutes, we get some very interesting soundbites, with Caine discussing being interested in doing a leading role, as well as playing a character that is very close to home for him (an ex-soldier, who lived in the same area that Caine was brought up in), Ben Drew talking about his improvisation on the project, and the Director talking about this, his first project. The subjects include what attracted them to the project, a little about the characters they portray, input on the violence in the movie, filming on location, and also some interesting opinions on the cause of youth crime.
The Music Video is for the Chase & Status (featuring Plan B) song 'End Credits', which plays over the End Credits. Featuring excerpts from the film (and a few extra bits of swearing dialogue) this isn't a particularly original or involving video, but it is nevertheless a great track.
VerdictMichael Caine is Harry Brown. Featuring one of the best characters (and performances) from the legendary Brit actor, it is nice to see the man has still got a few leading roles in him. This could be the peak of this, the twilight of his career, and is simply not to be missed. With a great bunch of solid and authentic supporting performances, some skilled and stylish directing work from first-timer Daniel Barber and a haunting thematic score, this is much more than just Dirty Harry makes a Death Wish on an inner-city Council Estate, more than just a character-driven Brit take on last year's revenge sleeper hit Taken, even offering us some pause-for-thought social commentary into the already-potent mix. On Blu-ray we get a superior video rendition, and a solid aural accompaniment as well as a decent set of extras that include a few worth-watching deleted scenes and a not-to-be-missed Audio Commentary, with Caine on superb form. Fans shouldn't hesitate in picking up this release, and newcomers should deem this well worth a place in their collection. This isn't a rental, this one's a keeper. Highly recommended.
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