I’m sorry for not writing the past two weeks. As some of you know, I am a senior in college so schoolwork and grad school applications and my honor’s thesis take priority over watching movies. But this week I’m back with the 2009 film Harry Brown, starring the great Sir Michael Caine. The movie flew under the radar when it came out but was well-recieved by critics.
Harry Brown (Michael Caine) is a retired Royal Marine and widower who is just trying to live out his retirement in peace. But his neighborhood is a hell-hole filled with muggers, dealers, and hoodlums. When Harry’s old marine friend is killed and the thugs responsible get away because of lazy police work, Harry begins a cold-blooded rampage against the crime infested slum. Basically, it’s Death Wish, but made by better people- and british.
Quite frankly, I’m surprised this film hasn’t gotten much attention, because it is intense and phenomenal from start to finish.
Michael Caine really is the movie, it’s his acting and presence that make it so good. I think that if they had gone with someone else for the role of Harry Brown, the movie would seem a little too cliched and trite- but it’s the certain tiredness and gentle sadness that Caine lends to Brown really sets the movie apart emotionally.
The film is dark (tonally and literally), grimy and half-lit. It’s pessimistic and brutal. But it’s fantastic and definitely worth watching. Though as a bit of a warning, it is very gruesome and bloody. Also, did you know that when you say “My Cocaine,” you’re saying Michael Caine in his own voice?
I’m ending this review a bit early in order to address one of your questions:
What’s your opinion on athletes becoming actors?
Great question. It’s a pretty common trend (although much less these days) for a professional athlete to attempt acting. Sometimes the results are good, like Michael Jordan in Space Jam. Sometimes they should be counted as crimes against humanity, like Shaquille O’Neal in Kazaam.
So, to address your question, I’m going to rank my top 7 Atheletes-turned-actors.
7. Vinnie Jones
Famous for playing tough, angry, British men in films like Snatch, X-Men: The Last Stand, and The Midnight Meat Train (NOT a porn film, believe it or not). Vinnie started out playing professional football (soccer for us Yanks).
6. Carl Weathers
While known for being Apollo Creed in the Rocky series and Dillon (“you son of a bitch”) in Predator, Carl started out playing for the Oakland Raiders. Now, neither of those films are really award-winning material, but they’re ultimately fun movies and Weather’s charm does a lot for them. Who didn’t choke up a little bit in Rocky IV when he died and Sly Stallone had that angsty driving montage to “There’s No Easy Way Out.” Plus, he participated in the most epic handshake in movie history.
5. Jason Lee
Alright, yes, he’s a scientologist, and yes he’s in the Alvin and The Chipmunks movies. But before that he stared in movies like Dogma, Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II, and the TV show My Name is Earl. And actually before that, he was a professional skateboarder.
4. Terry Crews
While some might point to his memorably narm in The Expendables, or his surprisingly tame (and good) role in the TV series Everybody Hates Chris, his greatest performance will always be in Old Spice commercials. Before he made the most amazingly ridiculous commercials in the history of advertising, however, he was a professional Football player in the NFL with a variety of teams (Rams, Chargers, Redskins, Eagles).
3. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
I’ve said it before that I think that The Rock is a very capable actor if given a decent enough script. I actually enjoy The Rundown and thought that he was one of the few good parts of GI Joe: Redemption, and his recent run in Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain actually surprised me with how well he can actually act. Before all of this, however, he was a professional “wrestler” with the WWE. Now I know what you’re saying: “Drew, WWE isn’t a sport, they’re not atheletes!” True. But before becoming The Rock, he actually was a professional wrestler (this time without quotation marks). And he actually grew up in the same city where I live- Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
2. Jason Statham
I thoroughly enjoyed The Transporter and the first The Expendables, but his first two movies: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch will forever be my favorite performances. Perhaps it’s because he wasn’t a bad-ass action star, he was just an average schmuck trying to make a buck and getting in to business with organized crime (Snatch remains as one of my favorite films). Prior to kicking ass, driving cars, and dropping panties, though, he was dropping into pools as a professional diver who placed 12th in 1992 world championships.
1. Arnold Schawzenegger
Who didn’t see this one coming? The man was the Terminator, he killed the Predator, he liberated the mutants on mars, he got elected governor of the state of California, fought Batman, and he got the Turboman toy for his whiny little kid in time for Christmas. Before all the fame, fortune, an action, he was an Austrian Tank commander and a professional weight lifter/body builder- even going so far to win Mr. Universe. MR. UNIVERSE. In all seriousness, True Lies is an amazing comedy and parody of Arnold’s very own films.
Be sure to check out my science column: Trope-ic Thunder
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