The Brave One
I know the subway is a little dirty but the gloves seem like overkill to me.

Theatrical Release Date: 09/14/2007
Director: Neil Jordan
Cast: Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, Nicky Katt

After seeing “Death Sentence“, it seemed only fair to see the feminine version of a revenge film and check out “The Brave One”.

One thing I should note is a favorable bias before entering the theater since Neil Jordan being in the director’s chair instilled me with a greater sense of confidence that this film would deliver the goods and Jodie Foster tends to be very selective about her film choices.

Also, they prominently use a Sarah McLachlan song in the film so I’ll admit to enjoying that on one hand and being annoyed on the other since I don’t particularly want to associate her songs with anything outside of my own personal frame of reference.

That being said, after contemplating everything, I’m a little disappointed … maybe more so because of the people involved.

In the film, Jodie Foster plays a talk radio host on the verge of getting married to the love of her life (played by Naveen Andrews). They have one of those cloyingly sweet and seemingly perfect relationships we all curse/envy.

As fate and script would have it, while walking their dog through the park, they’re mugged and viciously beaten. In trying to restart her life, Foster buys a gun and anyone who crosses her path is going to get a higher dose of lead in their diet.

As her vigilantism escalates, it draws the attention of Terrence Howard (a police detective already familiar with her assault) and it is their shared psychological pain than brings them closer together, all while he is coming closer to finding out that she’s behind the murders.

That’s a gross oversimplification of things but I think you get the point.

Jordan did a wonderful job of providing tension in the film. While I’m admittedly a big scaredy-cat, I was cringing a little at certain scenes because I knew something bad would happen but I wasn’t sure exactly what or when.

And the violence in the film is brutal. Not in a “Saw III” kind of way but more like “A History of Violence“. The film is about violent acts, made more effective because they could really happen, and Jordan puts the scenes together in such a way as to make it feel close to home. It’s unsettling as much as it is bloody.

Also, kudos go out to Foster and Howard for their portrayals. Since this is mostly a character study, their ability to play tortured souls mixed in with Jordan’s ability to frame that so delicately was a really nice combination.

Though that is what led to a point deduction on my ratings scale. Throughout the film, the characters have this consistency to them, a very tangible dividing line between right and wrong, within their own moral centers. This provided an excellent dramatic edge to the film that basically is undone by the ending.

Obviously, I’m not going to give it all away … suffice to say I am a bit confused as to why the filmmakers would decide to drastically change one of the characters right at the end. I can see some justification for it but it rings a little hollow for me.

Perhaps even more surprising than the ending was the audience I was with. They were one of the most bloodthirsty crowds I’d ever been with, cheering and applauding as Foster would kill some two-bit criminal. Now, I’m all for removing this refuse from society but to actively embrace vigilante killers seems a bit extreme to me.

Like I said before, I’m a little disappointed by this film considering the talent involved. I thought they would have made a film with more consistency in their characters. Still, it’s a good film, though I could see that a more mainstream audience might find it on the slow side in-between Foster’s gun antics. So, I’m giving “The Brave One” a 3 out of 5.

I think “Death Sentence” does a better job of providing a concluding moral to the whole issue of revenge but this film (up until the end) is a wonderful example of the psychological issues involved with being a victim and then overstepping your recovery and perpetuating the violence yourself.