Written by Roderick Taylor & Bruce A. Taylor
and Cynthia Mort
Directed by Neil Jordan
Running Time: 2:03
for strong violence, language and some sexuality.
The Brave One started off reasonably enough, but slowly started to disintegrate before a horrible ending.
Erica Bain is a talk radio DJ who seems to have everything going her way. One night she talks a walk with her fiance in Central Park and are confronted by three men. Erica is beaten within an inch of her life and her fiance is killed. After a long recovery period, Erica is at first frightened to even leave her apartment. The police don't seem to be all that interested in helping to solve her case, and the only way Erica can feel even remotely safe is to buy a gun, illegally. Almost immediately she ends up in a situation where she is forced to use it, and the feeling she gets isn't one of fear, but one of accomplishment. She turns into a vigilante, and a cult hero to some in Manhattan. On her trail is a cop she runs into at one of the crime scenes. He takes a special interest in her before coming to the conclusion that she is the criminal he is looking for. When their two lives come to a crossroads, which path with they both choose?
First off, The Brave One is definitely more of a drama than a thriller. Jodie Foster's character never starts to wear a mask and prowl the streets gunning down criminals. However, after killing a couple of people, she doesn't hide in her apartment anymore. The movie starts off morally ambiguous, showing us both sides of the coin. It is understandable that after being beaten almost to death, and seeing your fiance killed, you would want some revenge. Having so much fear that you can't step outside and needing a gun to make you feel safe is something I think a lot of people can understand. To help balance that out we have Terrence Howard's Detective Mercer, who is clearly on the side of what is right. He may understand the vigilante killer, but he also knows that you can't go around killing people you feel might be guilty. That's what the law is for. So while Erica is the main character and the one the audience will tend to side with, there is another character showing the other side of the story. Before I go into the plot of the film I will say that both Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard gave strong, emotional performances that definitely helped the film. The direction was ok, but there were too many times when the camera would twist for no reason, and we'd go from scene to scene very quickly by fading to black. None of it served much purpose. It was adding a layer of suspense where that extra layer wasn't needed. The story and tone of the film was strong enough that camera and editing tricks didn't add anything.
From here on out I'm going to end up giving away plot points and the ending of the movie, so don't read any further if you don't want to know. The first few people that Erica kills are people who are obviously bad. There's the guy who walks into a convenience store and guns down his wife in cold blood, and the two guys on the subway who steal an ipod from someone and threaten Erica. When she kills them, you don't feel too bad, because she was only protecting herself. And, in fact, the audience in my theater started to applaud. It's hard to fault her in the first killing because there wasn't a lot she could do to get out of the situation safely. The second time though, she could have left before the incident, but she didn't. After that, she would wander the streets late at night, not looking for trouble, but not shying away from it. She then finds a guy who has got a girl trapped in his car. She wants to free the girl, but almost ends up getting her killed. This is the first time she sees that maybe revenge isn't the way to go.
She also tracks down a guy Detective Mercer himself wants to kill, but obviously won't. In that case, she went after someone that the police couldn't touch. It was at that point she turned into a killer instead of someone protecting herself. But the audience still ate it up. I didn't realize how much blood lust there was in a New York audience. The movie wasn't played as some kind of superhero film, it looked and felt like real life, and these real live audience members wanted people to be killed. I found it kind of disturbing. But it was the ending of the movie that really turned me off. Throughout the film Detective Mercer was on the side of what was right. He was on the side of the law. But when left with a decision between bringing in a killer (Erica) or letting her kill the men responsible for her fiance's death, Mercer not only watches her kill him, he helps her cover it up by taking a bullet for her. Suddenly there was no one on the side of the law. There was no one there saying that vigilantism was wrong. The one character who was supposed to be morally above everything ended up caving in to blood lust and revenge. And that was an ending I didn't like. It could have all played out exactly the same, except after having Erica kill the last guy responsible, she should have been arrested. Because as she said in her voiceover at the end, once you turn into the stranger, you stay the stranger. Does anyone really believe that now that her revenge is over she'll stop killing people? I don't, because at no time did she feel remorse for killing all those other people. She never felt bad, and was willing to shoot a friend of hers to save her own skin. I firmly believe that the next night she'd go out, get a new gun, and keep up with her vigilante ways.
This DVD has a grand total of 2 extras. First there were 5 deleted scenes, none of which added anything to the story, and one of which was poorly written. The second one was a making-of/behind-the-scenes documentary which, for the first time, made me dislike the film even more. First off, the majority of it was spent having eveyone kiss everyone else's ass. Neil Jordan is a God (and he seems to also think highly of himself), no other actor could have possibly pulled off the roles except Foster and Howard... but what I disliked the most was the fact that at NO point did anyone ever discuss that what happened in the movie could possibly be WRONG! They go to great lengths to talk about how this is a 'genre' film but a different one because Erica Bain has morals and she feels bad about what she does. But what about the idea that killing anyone for any reason isn't morally acceptable? Yes, I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who will applaud her for her actions, but it would have been nice to have one person say they had some reservations about making a movie that showcases a woman randomly killing bad guys. If this had been a typical revenge flick, one in which they didn't go to great lengths to try and make 'real' - that would have been one thing. But they also discuss how they wanted to make this movie feel as real as possible. Well a real movie would have shown two sides to her actions, not just one that'll garner cheap thrills.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, The Brave One was a decent film with strong acting performances, but a story that left me feeling disturbed, and an ending that copped out.
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