The Brave One Review
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Each week, radio personality Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) shares her love of New York with her listeners. She walks the streets, taking in the sounds of the bustling big city. She romanticizes the city’s Good Old Days and talks about how things have changed.

But Erica’s feelings for her city change forever one night, when a group of guys attack her and her fiancé, David (Naveen Andrews), as they’re walking their dog in the park. David is killed, and Erica just barely pulls through. She tries to go back to her old life, but there’s something that won’t let her: fear.

In an attempt to reclaim her life, Erica buys a gun. It gives her the confidence to walk the streets at night again—and when she finds herself faced with more violence, it gives her a way to fight back. No longer the victim, Erica becomes a vigilante. But she starts playing with fire when she becomes friends with Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard), the man who’s trying to capture the person who’s responsible for the vigilante killings.

It seems like I just saw this movie a couple of weeks ago. Back then, it was called Death Sentence, and it starred Kevin Bacon as a man seeking revenge for the death of his son. Fortunately, The Brave One is an improvement on Death Sentence—but not by much. The story is definitely more solid, with a better mix of drama and action. And it brings in a bit of controversy to make the audience think about what’s right and what’s wrong. (Judging from the hoots and cheers in the audience, I think it’s safe to assume that they thought Erica was right in going out and killing bad guys.)

But The Brave One is just way too heavy-handed—and the story eventually goes beyond intense and crosses the line into laughable. Foster’s performance as the sickeningly affectionate woman in love just isn’t believable—nor is her abrupt transformation into the tough, stone-faced vigilante. Though you’re supposed to feel sorry for her, it’s not an easy task—especially when she starts wandering the streets at night, practically daring the bad guys to come and get her. The character is overcooked, plain and simple—to the point that I found myself expecting her to don a cape and announce, in her deepest, angriest growl, “I’m Batman.”

As if suddenly realizing that Foster’s character was just way too intense for audiences to handle for two long, exhausting hours, director Neil Jordan then chose to offset the film’s heaviness by throwing in some totally inappropriate and uncomfortable comedy from Mercer’s wise-cracking partner, Detective Vitale (Nicky Katt). Katt’s brief scenes are definitely a lot more fun than the rest of the movie, but they just don’t fit.

As a result, The Brave One is a jumbled mess of cliché characters (like Katt’s wise-cracking cop and the mysterious yet ever-present wise Jamaican woman who lives in Erica’s building) and dark, angsty melodrama. It’s heavy and hard to believe, and it makes for a long and exhausting two hours.

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