The Brave One (2007)
The Brave One, when distilled to its purest essence, is Jodie’s Foster’s Death Wish, but there isn’t anything necessarily wrong about exploring this scuzzy territory again with a fresh set of eyes. The film chronicles a New York City radio host (Foster) who is the victim of a brutal attack that leaves her boyfriend dead and her in a coma for three weeks. Shattered and hardened, she buys a gun for her own protection and finds herself in situations that require one. The Brave One features a lot of audience-approved ass kicking and an absurd amount of dangerous scenarios that Foster seems to casually find on a nightly basis. But what separates The Brave One from the usual grisly pap of the genre is that it refuses to pander to audience bloodlust. Director Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) complicates a simple case of vengeance by making an audience contemplate the true ramifications of violence and whether they are ultimately worth the price. Foster gives a ragged and emotionally raw performance. She discovers how easy killing comes to her and Foster struggles to keep her crumbling sense of humanity, with her last tie to the working world is her friendship with a deeply compassionate cop (Terrence Howard, terrific yet again). The most affecting moments are between Foster and Terrence as they construct a rather moving companionship where each feels out the other and Foster actively tries to avoid getting caught. The end of The Brave One certainly could have followed through with its morally ambiguous deliberations and open-ended questions, but while its climax does pull some punches it doesn’t wrap everything up with a bow either. This is high-end work for a guilty pleasure genre most noted for having its morals face down in the gutter. Now what the hell does the title refer to?
Nate’s Grade: B