The Brave One, a remake of the Charles Bronson classic Deathwish is a sensational flick, perfectly cast and well-acted.  Here’s the “skinny”…

Erica Bain (Jodie Foster), WKNW radio personality, walks the street finding sounds, stories and observations of New York life for her program Streetwalk.  On one dark evening, Erica and her fiance, David (Naveen Andrews) walk their dog through Central Park and are confronted by a group of malicious punks.  They are severely beaten and David dies from his injuries.  Her world completely shattered, Erica purchases a gun for self-protection, only to find it as an instrument for her chosen brand of justice and vengeance.

Many of you who read these reviews know that besides my love for critiquing films, I have a passion for educating and empowering individuals (women in particular) to defend themselves against violence (see The Golden Thread).  One of the major obstacles that I come across is convincing women to be proactive in their efforts to learn self-defense, to be diligent enough to train, and to come to understand themselves amidst a cloud of fear.  Erica Bain, unfortunately, began to understand the depths fear can penetrate after that tragic stroll.  A quote from the movie that I particularly like is

I always believed that fear belonged to other people.  Weaker people.  It never touched me.  And then it did.  And when it touches you, you know… that it’s been there all along.  Waiting beneath the surfaces of everything you loved.

The story of revenge is an old one, but plays to that part of our human nature that demands a certain “final” justice.  However, this film (achieved largely by the skilled actors, writers, and an extremely talented story-telling director in Neil Jordan) doesn’t, at any point, imply that her actions are justified.  If we have that notion of “They got what’s coming to them,” it’s on us… it’s our (0ver-)reaction towards violence… and it’s our sympathetic connection to the protagonist’s ordeal.  We are wrong.  Erica Bain knows she is wrong… that what she is doing is wrong, and this is a major quality in a film that transcends the typical revenge movie stereotypes.

It was nearly 30 years ago that Jodie Foster played opposite Robert DeNiro in the New York vigilante picture, Taxi Driver. The city has changed a lot in 30 years, but the history of violence stands and it is fitting to see Jodie play a character that is like so many of us: happy, optimistic,…blind.

There are so many things that are right about this film that it is hard to find any faults.  Jodie Foster’s performance is one of the best that I’ve seen and Terrence Howard does a magnificent job as the “detective playing his hunches.”  Artistically crafted by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Michael Collins) this film sets itself apart from the masses of revenge-driven stories and opens the doors for us to see our own morality and perhaps even question it.  Per example, “How can justice prevail, when the good do nothing?”


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