Directed by: Neil Jordan
Premise: After her fiancé is murdered during a mugging, a talk radio host (Jodie Foster) begins patrolling the New York streets at night, killing criminals with a handgun.
What Works: The Brave One is a fairly well made picture. Jodie Foster is very good in her role as a woman whose life is shattered by a random act of violence and watching her recovery through the act of vengeance is credible. The film features narration by Foster’s character throughout and rather than being intrusive, it actually fills in a lot of the character’s motivations and plays well against the imagery. The heroine has a very interesting relationship with a police detective played by Terrence Howard, who also delivers a solid performance that allows him more latitude than police officials are usually given in vigilante films.
What Doesn’t: Like Death Sentence, The Brave One is confused about what it is trying to say, although this film even more so. At moments it reaches for some kind of profound theme or message about contemporary anxieties of urban life or the consequences of vigilantism, but The Brave One does not carry the theme consistently, only pecking at it in a few scenes that do not add up to anything. The ending of the film is really problematic as Howard’s detective makes decisions that are completely inconsistent with his character. As usual for director Neil Jordan, the film attempts to link sexuality and violence and this is done in a scene that mirrors one of the final and most haunting sequences of Munich, but in this film it is handled clumsily and does not tell the audience anything about the characters or the event.
Bottom Line: The Brave One is a fair film. It surpasses Death Wish in its craft, but Charles Bronson’s film was at least coherent in its politics and its goals. The Brave One is too confused about whether or not Foster’s character is heroic and not in a way that is intentional and thought provoking like Taxi Driver. As a thriller, The Brave One is sufficient and the performances by the lead actors largely save the film.
Episode: #158 (September 23, 2007)