Monday, September 17, 2007


Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, Mary Steenburgen, Nicky Katt

"How many wrongs to make it right?"

Cinema 2, Robinson's Galleria

If you didn't know any better, you might think this film is about an American Indian named The Brave One. British actor of Indian descent, Naveen Andrews though has a very brief role. So in this case, The Brave One would refer to Erica Bain portrayed by Jodie Foster in yet another kick ass female role.

Erica Bain is known as the Voice on her radio talk show. She records a myriad of sounds one hears in New York City then gives her audience a running commentary. The nitty gritty part of the city not the touristy sections. One evening during a stroll in Central Park with her fiance, they are viciously attacked by thugs for some cheap fun. David is killed while Erica survives but is deeply scarred both physically and emotionally for life. Frustrated by the slow justice system, she turns into a nocturnal vigilante.

While the movie does have violent scenes, they are shot in a way that they don't overwhelm your senses in a jarring way. Well not mine, anyway. In some ways it was justified because she was avenging the death of her fiance but on the other hand she was taking the law into her own hands.

Instead I believe the main gist of the film as presented by Neil Jordan, the Irish director (Crying Game, The End of the Affair, Michael Collins) is the anguished transformation of Erica Bain's personality. In the beginning of the film, she is depicted as a contented soon to be married woman. After the tragedy, she becomes a deeply frustrated person with paranoid tendencies. The first time she fires her gun was clearly to defend herself against an attacker. She is shaken yet at the same time is totally calm and feels empowered. Erica Bain was a pretty complex character and it helps that a fine actress like Jodie Foster gets to essay out her conflict ridden personality. Her steady and sturdy performance gave an otherwise predictable plot a grittier edge over your typical Dirty Harry or Death Wish flicks. Once in a while, it is refreshing to see a film with a strong female character in the lead role.

The fact that Terrence Howard is also in the cast is another big plus. Another good actor who seems to be relegated to supporting roles, his portrayal of Detective Mercer was subtle yet forceful at the same time. I like the chemistry which developed between Erica Bain and Detective Mercer, it seemed natural and not merely sneaked into the script to give it some romantic angle.

Overall, the film succeeds in showing a justified vigilante only because her need to avenge the death of a loved one was more powerful than a need to get rid of the bad elements in society. I don't condone violence nor do I feel that people have to take the law into their own hands to bring about justice in this world. But sometimes don't you just wish it was as easy as shooting a criminal point blank then simply getting away with it? OK so don't answer that, it's just wishful thinking on my part.

A well directed film which although lasting almost 2 hours, the sequences were not dragging nor boring to watch. It had the correct amount of thrilling moments, a bit of comedic dialogue, a poignant story amidst the violent scenes set in a gritty city that never sleeps, New York. Its top notch cast is an added bonus!

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