Review by Gary Dean Murray


    The very opening images of The Brave One set the tone of the piece.  Shot with soft and lost focus, the first thought is of this being a dream.  And that is the best way to describe what happens in this film, it is a horrible, horrible dream.

    Jodie plays Erica Bane a NYC radio host on a NPR style show, all about the sounds of the city.  Even though she is being pushed to doing TV, she feels that she is a face for radio.  But, she does have a great life with a good job and a younger doctor fiancée (Naveen Andrews).  Of course she has the Jamaican neighbor from Central Casting Hell.  One night the couple takes their dog for a walk and the mutt gets away.  As they enter a tunnel, three thugs are waiting with the animal.  This builds into a confrontation where Erica is beaten nearly to death.  Her lover isn’t as lucky.

    In the hospital, our detective (Terrence Howard) is investigating a murder case.  The witness is a young girl and the suspected murderer is the stepfather, a man who refuses to let the little one talk to the police.  This is not the first time the stepfather has been abusive.  But, the police feel that they have their hands tied.  Days pass and Erica finally gets well enough to leave.  But her apartment is no longer a home.  Without her man and her dog, she is alone and becoming more frightened.  It is a struggle to walk around the block.  She goes on radio and has a dead air, a ‘deer in the headlights’ experience.  To recapture her sense of self, she goes to buy a gun.  Unfortunately, there is a waiting period.  A young Asian man overhears her pleas and sells her an illegal weapon.  Later that night, she is in a connivance store.  An irate ex-husband comes in and shoots his ex-wife.  Erica hides in the corner but the bad man hears her.  As he attempts to hunt her down, she finds her gun and expels three rounds, hitting the man once.  He is dead and she finds that she likes the feeling of dispensing justice.  This is the downward spiral of the character.

    The rest of The Brave One is Erica becoming a one-woman justice league and the detective figuring out who is doing all the shootings.  The Brave One is just as much a study of the psyche of fear as it is a vigilante flick.  Instead of taking the macho, he-man precept of shoot first and never question; here we get much more of the how and why, mostly by the voiceovers of Jodie Foster.  Yes she is a killer, but she wants to figure out why.


    Jodie Foster has never been afraid of taking risks in her roles.  From Taxi Driver to Carny to The Accused this woman has never shied away from dangerous and controversial characters.  In this little film, she basically plays two different personas, each battling for control of the body.  As she travels down this dark path, there is this feeling of never being able to go back.  But under the skillful tutelage of this Oscar winner, the film never comes across as a one-dimensional feature.

    Terrence Howard gives another strong supporting performance in The Brave One.  In a year where he has had many wonderful roles, this is another feather in his acting cap.  He plays a man who is just trying to do what is right while trying to do his job.  Coming across as a trapped soul, he becomes our moral compass.  One has to give high praises to director Neil Jordan.  While going down a path many directors have trodden before, he finds something fresh along the way.  He could have just made this some fast paced action adventure, but he tries to give the proceeding a bit more by delving into the mind of his main character.  There are moments when he follows the clichéd route, but he also serves up some different and surprising twists.  Call it Death Wish Lite with a twist of Hitchcock.  And though not an Academy winner, it does deliver more both as an action film and as a study on the psyche.


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