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Woman's Best Friend
The Brave One (DVD)
Member Name: spencer_hawken
The Brave One (DVD)
Advantages: Vigilante tale with a difference
Disadvantages: Annoying initial plot device that brings Erica to theaction
Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) is a New York radio journalist, her show appeals to the art community as she talks about the city, its changes, and how she both loves and hates it. Her job may be good, but her home life is better, Erica is due to marry her partner David (Naveen Andrews)in the near future; things really could not be any better. But a late night walk with David and their much loved dog in the park soon puts an unpleasant kink in their lives, now things will never be the same.
When their dog is captured by some street thugs David tries to resolve the issue quickly and calmly; but in just seconds the situation is taken out of control and the couple severely beaten by the gang. While Erica recovers some weeks later David dies shortly after, leaving Erica to pick up the pieces of a shattered life alone. But what if life does not allow you to recover? What if you never see life the same again? Now in a city she never saw as a problem Erica heads off to right the wrongs of others, and to put an ends to all the street hatred that makes New York the most dangerous city in the world.
I always enjoy a film that stars Jodie Foster, she seems to be one of those actresses that's incredibly picky about the sort of roles she accepts, often not working for years on end as she does not feel the passion. It's this careful selection that has allowed Foster to continue to remain an A list actress for 40 years; happily I can report that The Brave One continues to allow her this reign over Hollywood.
The Brave One opens a picture of trauma, done in a very tasteful manner. Some movies over emphasise trauma, going through the every element of the recovery process in arduous detail, making the film seem inferior and often dull as a result. Here the film gives brief snapshots into the recovery process of a victim, you see Erica go through the upset of living alone after a fatal incident, the trauma of reaching for the door and going out into the real world, as well as the feeling of being watched or followed by what seems like every person on the street. The whole process is addressed in a matter of minutes, but the careful helmsmanship of the movies director Neil Jordon (The Crying Game) makes you feel like you have gone through the process with her.
While the idea of The Brave One is not new the first big Vigilante movie being the Death Wish series starring the now late Charles Bronson lead the way, but movies like Abel Ferrara's MS.45 (seen from a woman's angle like here) and the Michael Douglas movie Falling Down perfected this genre. What this movie does is create a fresh vision, its reasons more justified, the detail and history leading up to the events in which Erica takes to the street wasting the cities scumbags carefully played out for the viewer to fully understand. For the first time in any vigilante movie I feel like I'm taking the journey with Erica rather than just being a casual viewer.
While I'm impressed with the movie as a whole it annoys me with these sort of films how suddenly the victim finds trouble everywhere while never going out and actively seeking it (at least not initially), having never discovered it before. It's the one thing that drags you back to more inferior movies of this type.
There is a nice cat and mouse game here that is played out between Erica and Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard), and while it echoes Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall's synergy in Falling Down here the game is played from up close, rather than from a distance, the mutual understanding being played out up close and personal. Worse still, or better for the sake of the movie Mercer actually feeds information to Erica, information that initially seems isolated but slowly plays great pertinence to the story. There is something magical about the passing of information between Mercer and Erica, it's a pinnacle changing moment; does he know what she's up to? Or is he just using her to unburden his soul?
As Erica starts to find the burden of her actions playing on her mind, and the balance of good over bad seems to become slightly offset the movie titillates its audience with a variety of near miss scenarios in which the game playing becomes enhanced. One minute you think her time of anonymity is up, the next its balance is returned allowing Erica free reign to continue her work. But still rather like any wrong doing has a negative response (if you follow a religious belief), the same applies to any good turn especially if in this sense it's a bad good turn (if you get my drift).
The Brave One despite its shocking matter, with the exception of its harrowing opening scene never falls foul of any grotesque displays of violence, it's all dealt with in a quick and well considered manner; both MS.45 and Death Wish both went over the top to deliver the shock factors, showing brutal rapes and heinous injuries. Here it's more of a hint rather than a blunt gesture, making this a movie that will never fall foul of being considered exploitation.
Foster performs well here; she displays her emotions well and is delivering her most believable victim role. It's great to see a movie with anger starring Jodie Foster where she has not been a victim of rape or sexual abuse, if you don't get where I'm coming from on this last comment look at her movie history. For once Foster is not the victim here when addressed in the larger scale, she is the person to be feared, look into her eyes for most of the movie and there is little going on; a trait that few actresses would be able to achieve.
To finish up my review I have to say the final moments of this movie will make the hair on your neck stand on your end; this is a truly exciting and mortifying finale of any movie I have seen from 2007. It is a genuine but amazing surprise that only the most daring underground movies might dare to pull.
Spencer Hawken 12/07
Summary: A woman seeks revenge when her lover is beaten to death