The Brave One (Jordan, 2007)

Revenge gets played out often through Hollywood’s glossy eyes, a seemingly iconic motivation and solution for the horrible acts society can’t punish lawfully. Neil Jordan’s gorgeous looking revenge film The Brave One has an advantage over all it’s bloody predecessors – Jodie Foster. Foster’s one of those rare actors who can make you forget a movie’s malfunctions, and in the case of The Brave One it’s a meandering and simple screenplay. Foster plays radio talk show host Erica Bain, the survivor of a brutal attack which leaves her fiance dead and her own mental state crumbling under pressure from the devastating loss. Erica buys a gun out of shear fear, then inevitably finds herself in another violent situation, this time reacting instinctually and with deadly force. Foster gives what could have been just another familiar vigilante story added weight through a stunning combination of aggression and pathos. As Erica tastes killing, she begins to lose control of her old self, replacing memories of past love with hypnotic, meandering instances of insanity and death. Jordan establishes a roving camera following Bain’s every move, sometimes turning on it’s axis as she traverses through the dark alleyways and streets of an NYC she both loves and hates. When outside the presence of Foster, The Brave One doesn’t add up to much, relying on an underwritten policeman role played wonderfully by Terrence Howard to salvage the muddled whole. The characters in the film, both good and evil, might be archetypes, but they represent an impotence to crime and arrogance which feels very scary and true. Jordan’s film sees the System as a failing entity unable to protect citizens from thuggery, brutality, and lawlessness. That The Brave One makes it’s case for revenge so seamlessly remains disturbing, but the psychological ramifications of Bain’s actions are there on the screen, and Foster’s great performance makes them sting.

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