Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Possibly the best movie I’ve seen this year ‘The Brave One’ or ‘Death Wish wears a Skirt’, or ‘Ms. 45: Clarice’s Revenge’ kind of left me feeling a bit uneasy as I departed the theater.   As far as I can recall we do still have a little thing is this country called ‘Due Process’ and maybe walking around with a 9mm putting slugs in the heads of the never do wells isn’t the best course of action.  Now obviously every single cat that tasted hot lead in ‘The Brave One’ had it coming and then some but then that’s movie simplicity at work because the real world is ruled by gray areas.  The ultimate message of ‘The Brave One’ is basically ‘take these bitches out with extreme prejudice’ which while making for fantastic entertainment also makes for suspect morality. 

Jodie Foster plays New York City radio talk show host Erica Baines who has a simple NPR type show where she discusses the sounds of a town she has labeled the ‘Safest big city in the world’.  She’s madly in love with her fiancé David (Naveen Andrews) as the pair shows so much affection for each other it’s almost sickening.  One fateful evening while discussing wedding plans and walking the dog David tosses a ball into a tunnel and Spot doesn’t come right out with the ball causing the pair to look for the puppy.  Unfortunately they meet a trio of thugs who terrorize the couple and eventually administer a viscous beating to the pair, ending David’s life and placing Erica into a coma. 

Weeks later Erica emerges from her coma but now saddled with the knowledge of her true loves death and her world violated she has emerged a different person, consumed by fear.  To combat this terrifying fear Erica eventually finds the strength to leave her apartment and buy a gun.  What is the little lady going to do with this gun?  Even she doesn’t know until she happens upon a corner party store and events transpire which result in the sudden demise of a murderous thug, cause of death: bullet to the trachea.  Investigating this crime and the others that will soon follow is honest hard working cop

Detective Mercer (Terence Howard) and his wise cracking side kick Detective Vitale (Nicky Katt).  Normally the wise cracker would be a black dude but since T. Howard is black already this would be redundant.  Howard initially made Erica’s acquaintance as he was investigating another case and saw Erica, being a fan of show, when she was in a coma at the hospital.  Later he sees her lurking at one of the crimes she’s committed and the two strike a fast friendship with Erica feigning to be interested in procedures of police work but really wants to know what HE knows about the crimes she’s committed.  Eventually though, despite his growing fondness for the damaged talk show host, coincidences lead Detective Mercer to an unavoidable conclusion concerning this so-called vigilante who couldn’t stop what she is doing even if she wanted to.

Looking at Jodie Foster’s filmography it lists her as having shown up on Adam-12.  Adam-12!  Jodie Foster has been acting about as long as she’s been able to form sentences and then with Terence Howard who is as good as any male actor in front of the camera working today, the least of your worries when watching ‘The Brave One’ is the performances of the leads.  Foster’s character of Erica is no superhero, damaged beyond repair.  The tragedy she suffered removed her soul and in actuality has turned her into a sort of pathological serial killer and Foster captures this characters angst perfectly.  Masterfully directed by Neil Jordan who also brought us ‘The Crying Game’ back in ’92, Jordan meticulously presents a very fluid narrative with carefully selected shots and great framing.  As unlikely a pair as the tall handsome Howard and the frail withered Foster may seem, the two actors certainly have an electric chemistry on screen in their scenes together. 

You want violence?  We have violence!  People get shot in the eye socket, blasted in the chest, bludgeoned with crowbars, run over with cars, and beaten with pipes among other brands of mayhem.  You want nudity?  Well, either Jody is showing us a little skin at 45 or her body stunt double is, either way it’s there.  You want drama?  We have it.  You want tragedy?  It’s there.  ‘The Brave One’ from my vantage point was one heck of a well made, well acted, very entertaining film virtually from start to finish.  Now I could nit pick some narrative flaws and some unlikely scenarios that surfaced, but that WOULD be nit picking and I’m not gonna do it.  Good movie, and we’ll let it go at that.

Good movie established, it’s always good to get a feel of audience reaction.  When a thug is prone on the ground and catches a bullet to the face and the audience cheers wildly, is this a good thing?  When a couple of hip-hoppin’ crims catch a few in the chest, and there is resounding applause, is this a good thing?  ‘The Brave One’ certainly appeals to the bloodlust in folks, and it’s possible that this is the kind of dialog that director Jordan wanted to initiate, but being that his film is so effective as a vigilante pic, and Foster so effective as a victim you either cheer for her to kill these dudes, otherwise you’re basically siding with these criminals since their guilt is never in doubt.  Any question or doubt to the direction or tome of this film is certainly cleared up in the somewhat ridiculous ending so illegally grab a nine, find a subway and get to blasting!  Or so says ‘The Brave One’.

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