Friday, September 14, 2007

The Brave One

Jodie Foster action star? Umm…okay. The Brave One doesn’t quite work as the drama and action elements never blend, but it does have its moments, if you can get over the inherent absurdity of Jodie Foster doing her best Charles Bronson impersonation

After radio talk show host Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) and her fiancée (Naveen Andrews) are brutally attacked in the park by a gang she wakes up in the hospital beaten and frightened after weeks in a coma. Her fiancée is dead, her dog is gone, and the men who are responsible are still free.

In an attempt to get control of her life Erica buys a gun and puts herself, sometimes purposefully sometimes by accident, into dangerous situations where violence will occur. Though she is repulsed and frightened she also seeks out these situations and even begins to enjoy herself. She becomes a vigilante and imposes her own brand of brutal justice on her victims.

She also meets and befriends NY Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard) who is struggling with the limitations of the system and also trying to help Erica come to grips with what happened to her. As the clues to the vigilante’s identity begin to pile up Mercer begins to suspect his new friend might be responsible.

In terms of drama and the process of a character overcoming and dealing with a horrific crime the film receives high marks. Foster is terrific in the role of a woman whose life has been shattered and doesn’t quite know how to pick up the pieces. The scene of the attack is unbelievably brutal (at moments unnecessarily so - did we really need to see this to “accept” her situation?). The film also spends an adequate amount of time letting Erica deal with her grief and newfound sense of fear, which she speaks eloquently about on the radio.

The other half of the film, the vengeance action scenes, don’t quite mesh with the drama. The film feels like two separate movies at cross purposes. The first is an engrossing character study and the second a mindless action flick. Sadly it’s the second which wins in the end with a completely unsupportable, and groan worthy, ending.

The Brave One, at times, is a mess, ridiculous, and quite good. Although the film is deeply flawed the drama and the scenes between Howard and Foster are worth seeing. Even with all of its faults I would still, marginally, recommend the film to viewers who want more than your average action flick, but more action than your average drama. Does it work? Not really, but there’s enough there that it can’t be totally dismissed either.

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