THE BRAVE ONE
*1/2 (out of 5)
September 14, 2007
Jodie Foster as ERICA BAIN
Malcolm Terrence Howard as DETECTIVE MERCER
Nicky Katt as DETECTIVE VITALE
Naveen Andrews as DAVID KIRMANI
Mary Steenburgen as CAROL
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Neil Jordan
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
This must be the year for the vigilante movie. A couple weeks ago, we saw Kevin Bacon kick some serious butt in “Death Sentence.” Now, Jodie Foster is throwing her hat in the ring as a weepy version of Charles Bronson in “The Brave One.”
The film follows a New York radio show host named Erica Bane (Foster), who is annoyingly happy with her doctor boyfriend (Naveen Andrews). One night, they’re walking their dog in Central Park, and a bunch of thugs jump them. The boyfriend is killed, and Erica is beat within an inch of her life.
After Erica’s nursed back to health, she grieves (a little too much) for her lost love. She’s terrified of the city now, so she buys a gun. One night, she finds herself in the right place at the wrong time, and she witnesses a murder. This leads her to kill her first punk, and after a fully-clothed shower (which is what vigilantes do after their first hit, apparently), she goes on a punk killing spree.
Terrence Howard plays NYPD Detective Mercer who is investigating the murders. He coincidentally strikes up a relationship with Erica Bane only to start to suspect her in the killings.
There are almost too many problems with this film to do them all justice. So many things happen that really make no sense. For example, how does a woman who has never fired a gun before become a crack shot – enough to shoot a driver of an oncoming vehicle between the eyes – after only killing three people?
And why does the happy couple walk their dog in the middle of the night in Central Park? And if it’s a German shepherd, it’s a crappy watch dog. Why do the punks videotape the crime? Why is this woman even on the radio if she just audio-tapes sounds of the city?
Other problems creep in, like Mercer’s overtly cliche wisecracking partner (Nicky Katt) and the fact that Erica Bane is reduced to cheap action-hero one-liners like “Who’s the bitch now?”
Even the emotional undertones of the film are completely misplaced. For example, we are treated to at least three flashbacks Erica has of her dead lover, and each one features them having sex. Nothing wrong with fond memories of sex, but was that all she cared about? She doesn’t remember anniversaries or birthdays or even the first dinner date? Even when she’s being stitched up by the doctors does she think about sex.
Why can’t we all find a girlfriend like this?
Beyond these numerous plot and character problems, we are treated to another tour-de-force of Jodie Foster acting. Ever since she won the Oscar for “Silence of the Lambs,” she’s focused on strictly serious vehicles, and her costars all give her a wide breath, refusing to actually act with her.
I’d much rather see Foster make career decisions like Geoffrey Rush, who takes brilliant roles in films like “Elizabeth” and “Shakespeare in Love,” but still makes me laugh when Paul Reubens breaks wind in the face of his over-the-top character of Casanova Frankenstein in “Mystery Men.”
“The Crying Game” director Neil Jordan tries to put a sensitive, intellectual spin on this feminist version of “Death Wish,” but he ends up wallowing in angst. Foster is put on display like a circus freak to emote for more than two hours with no real connection with the audience.
The only thing that could have this movie better is if it was revealed at the end that our leading lady was really a man. But we’ve been down that path before.