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Review

‘Brave One’ draws mixed feelings from reviewers

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September 21, 2007

Fear. It causes us to sweat bullets, our heart rates to skyrocket and our vision to become blurred. Sometimes, fear causes us to buy a gun and shoot every lowlife we can find. A little extreme, but that far-fetched jump is the same one “The Brave One” is built on.

“The Brave One” is the latest Cracker Jack crime drama aiming its sights at reforming the world through harsh imagery and biting dialogue. Jodie Foster plays Erica Bain, a New York DJ who has her whole life brutally ripped away from her as a gang of street thugs puts her in a coma, beats her fiancé to death and even steals her dog. After three weeks, Erica awakens to a life darker than her worst nightmares. She must not only cope with her morose singularity in life; she must also combat her fear of the city she once loved so much.

Drama veteran Terrence Howard steps in as Detective Mercer, a stereotypical New York cop complete with an ex- wife and a brooding nature. Mercer and Erica fortuitously cross paths a little too often as Mercer investigates a series of homicides that is actually Erica’s bloody path of vigilante justice.

This kind of cat and mouse chase that blurs the lines of morality works find on paper but “The Brave One” gets too ambitious for its own good. It jumps from detective flick to revenge tail to sorrowful look at agony and back again. This identity crisis could be forgiven if the individual parts were strong enough to make up for a substandard whole. But they don’t.

The investigative portion houses little detection and a promising character piece about bitter revenge crumbles into a string of petty murders committed by a woman the audience doesn’t so much feel is hurt, but is rather told is angry. As the movie progresses, Foster’s rage and grief must be spoon-fed out since director Neil Jordan allows very little time for the horrific reality to settle in.

Erica’s character doesn’t help this disjointed feeling either with her almost schizophrenic — like mood flops between scorned bloodlust and utter abhorrer of what she has become. She hates herself for the monster inside but walks the streets every night, finger on the trigger, looking for her next victim. Sadly, that poor woman Foster personifies deteriorates into a pissed off woman with a gun, one viewers have trouble connecting with.

Occasionally a ray does break through the gloom. The script surprises with impressively poignant observations on violence in our society and Foster and Howard both bring intensity to their roles that pump some energy into the film.

All of this swirls together to a black & white, grim fairy-tale ending that leaves viewers with a sense that justice doesn’t really matter as long as they hit first.

It’s very few and far between moments of brilliance, the only fear “The Brave One” leaves me with is a fear to go back to the theater.

Ken Weigend is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the Student Voice during spring semester 2010.