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Language, Violence Weaken a Well-Crafted Brave One

  • Lisa Rice Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2007 9 Sep
  • COMMENTS
Language, Violence Weaken a Well-Crafted <i>Brave One</i>

DVD Release Date:  February 5, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  September 14, 2007
Rating:  R (for strong violence, language, and some sexuality)
Genre:  Thriller, Drama
Run Time:  118 min.
Director:  Neil Jordan
Actors:  Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Nicky Katt, Naveen Andrews, Mary Steenburgen, Luis Da Silva, Jr., Blaze Foster, Rafael Sardina, and Jane Adams

With the white-knuckle suspense of Flightplan, the “keep it real” radio host vibe of Talk to Me, and the terrifying psycho-thriller shock effect of Mr. Brooks, Warner Bros.’ new Jodie Foster film, The Brave One, is a well-crafted, entertaining film marred by excessive foul language, violence and a dark worldview.

Erica Bain (Foster) is a radio host who, in a dreamy, surreal, but relatable voice, talks each morning about life in New York, “the safest big city in the world.” Erica’s worldview must be tested in the gritty reality of life, however, and her test comes in the most horrific way.  One night she and her fiancé, David (Lost’s Naveen Andrews), are attacked and brutally beaten by a gang of street punks during a walk through Central Park. David is dead on arrival at the hospital, and when Erica awakens from a three-week coma she is in total shock and fear.  It takes her weeks to even venture out onto the streets again. Her work at the radio station comes into major question by her boss, Carol (Mary Steenburgen), and her confidence plummets.

After hitting a dead end with the police and their slow investigation, Erica impulsively buys a 9mm gun from an underground source.  She gets a quick lesson on shooting, not realizing that she’ll have to use her new skills immediately in a convenience store skirmish.  After she shoots and kills a “bad guy,” something is triggered inside Erica—a certain satisfaction in righting some wrongs and a thirst for more revenge.  She continues her anonymous killing spree and captures the attention of Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard), who makes it his mission to figure out the mystery.

With a new resolve and newfound nerves of steel, Erica takes calls from listeners, who discuss the ethical implications of this mysterious person who’s single-handedly cleaning up crime in the city through murder.  From the journalistic side of things, Erica begins rubbing shoulders with Mercer, more and more, and the two become friends.  But Erica wonders how long will it take for the clever Mercer to catch up to her trail, and what, exactly, he will do when she’s exposed.

The Brave One is cleverly filmed in the city (how did they get some of those almost-empty New York City scenes?) and fittingly utilizes modern technology.  One of the breaking points, clue-wise, is when Foster’s character gets a text message with a video attachment. 

The movie is exciting and terrifying as Foster delivers some of her best acting—running the gamut of emotions from “in love” to shock to anger to steely-eyed, cold-blooded vengeance, then back to her “pals with the police” persona.  (The character has some serious disassociative issues!) Perhaps the movie plays on our widespread, national post-9/11 collective fear and strikes an ominous “time for payback” chord with audiences.

The problem is that, even though the revenge element is enticing, biblically, we understand that “vengeance is mine, says the Lord; I will repay,” a message that’s difficult to adhere to in the midst of horrific pain. The movie’s message is “Vengeance is yours, girl.  Go get ‘em!”  And the protagonist’s methods are never really rebuked in the end—only mildly assuaged and redirected.  There are several D.H. Lawrence poetry quotes about playing God and crossing certain lines, which do evoke serious thought and can be used as a platform for discussion.  The other worldview issue is that the whole movie has a dark, foreboding, “life’s unfair,” cynical tone to it.  The truest statement of all comes from the detective, who says, “Divorce sucks.”

The language in the film is excessive, with dozens of profanities and obscenities, and of course, the murderous violence is completely inappropriate for impressionable children.  There are some sex scenes as well, though pretty well veiled.

Overall, audiences who liked Flightplan and Jodie Foster in revenge mode will likely enjoy The Brave One. Again, however, be warned that the unbiblical worldview and R-rating elements may leave you with an uneasy feeling … kind of like walking in Central Park at night.  Haven’t we all seen enough movies that show what can happen?

CAUTIONS
:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Smoking, drinking portrayed.
  • Language:  Excessive, with dozens of obscenities and profanities.
  • Sex:  Sex scene portrayed with some frontal nudity shown.
  • Violence:  Multiple shootings, murders.
  • Worldview:  "Vengeance is yours!  Go for it!"