The Brave One

Plot: A radio host (Jodie Foster) loves her life, but when her fiancé is brutally attacked, she decides to go on a rampage in the streets of New York. Her pursuit of evildoers catches the attention of the media and the NYPD, with a police detective (Terrence Howard) hot on her trail.

Who’s it for: There aren’t many films that have a woman in the starring role, and Foster typically is a good box office draw. More than anything, if you’ve ever mused about a bit of violent revenge, this is your movie.

Expectations: An individual scorned and out for revenge has been done to death, so I needed something more to get me excited. Neil Jordan is the director, and he’s responsible for “Interview with a Vampire” so that’s a plus.

SCORECARD

Actors:

Jodie Foster as Erica: Foster is a good actor, but there isn’t much believability in this role, and the film really seems to be shooting for that as its goal. We watch Erica have the perfect life ripped away from her, and then everything actually seems to work out too perfectly, including running into the worst of people. Her grief is replaced by violence, and her radio show seamlessly shifts from happy-go-lucky to dark and depressed.
Grade: 6

Terrence Howard as Mercer: If you only have time for one Terrence Howard performance, choose “The Hunting Party.” Even though neither role is that impressive, there’s more flash in the other film which opens next week. Here, he is a quiet, by-the-book detective who seems drawn to the wrong women.
Grade: 5

Naveen Andrews as David: It’s always nice to see a TV actor on the big screen — especially when Andrews gets to lose his “Lost” accent and use his real one. David doesn’t stick around for much of the film except in some uncomfortable flashbacks, so don’t expect too much.
Grade: 5

Talking: The film starts with Erica on the radio, practically letting out a quiet orgasm as she talks about her love of the city. It’s too much. Just like it’s too much when Erica shouts one-liners after she kills her victims just like any ordinary action film would.
Grade: 4

Sights and sounds: There are shaky, diagonal camera angles that are overused to show us that Erica is going through difficult thoughts and feelings. Plus, it’s never a positive when a brutal hospital scene flips back and forth to a sweet love scene.
Grade: 4

PLOT SPOILERS

Best Scene: Two different times they said a phone number and didn’t use “555.” I just want to say thanks. Maybe I’m just a movie nerd, but I always cringe when I hear “555.”

Ending: Wow. Not what I expected. I won’t give it away, but it you like trick endings, you’ll want to get in line. Let’s just say the law is on the side of “The Brave One.”

Random Thoughts: Years ago, Foster made an announcement that she would be in less films and very selective with her roles. Well, since 1994, “Maverick,” “Contact” and “Inside Man” are still the only films of hers I’ve really liked. Also, I saw this in a packed theater and women were cheering/laughing when Foster was knocking off some of her victims. I don’t think that was the goal of the film.

Rewatchability: On a second viewing, I think everything will get funnier. This includes the detective banter between Terrence Howard and Nicky Katt and all of the moments where Jodie Foster takes the law into her own hands.

OVERALL

It seems there’s a tug of rope in “The Brave One.” On one hand, there is a very sincere film that attempts to dive into the reality of dealing with the violence loss of a loved one. On the other hand is a poor woman’s Batman. The switch is flipped so quickly by Erica that I didn’t root for her vengeance, I felt sorry for her. There are odd moments of comedy to go along with all of the supposed drama and I could never understand if “The Brace One” was making a justification of violence, or just showing Jodie Foster kicking some ass for the fun of it.

Overall Grade: 5

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