Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Brave One

Erica Bain, a smooth-talking poet on a local radio show in New York, is beaten along with her fiancee while walking one day in Central Park. She wakes up three weeks later from a coma, and, upon discovering that her fiancee died and her dog stolen, she tries to put her life back together.

However, she can't put the same Erica Bain back together. So she reaches for an illegally purchased gun and a box of bullets, and rather than being paralyzed by fear and grief, goes about avenging his death.

This movie disappointed me on so many levels. First of all, I can't even enjoy Jodie Foster whipping a gun around on a subway and pointing it at nefarious dudes. I can't enjoy her kick-ass mentality because SHE can't enjoy it. While she's on a spree throughout New York as an avenging angel, she's angsting all over the place, even to the point where she befriends a policeman assigned to the case. She's on the brink of confessing, it seems, every time they speak. We feel little remorse for her crimes, which are against over-the-top bad guys, but she's carrying the weight on her shoulders. It's as if Jodie had just discovered the Code of Ethics for the Motion Picture Industry.

The dialogue is asinine, put simply. When the gunshop proprietor tells her, You can't buy a gun without a waiting period, she replies, like a five-year-old, "But I need something NOW." My God, even her on-air poetry sucks wind.

Ms. Foster is very good in the role, despite the bad writing. However, she has another obstacle in the film, an obstacle no amount of bullets is going to overcome: The casting of Terrence Howard as her police buddy. The guy is friendly enough, but no way do we believe him in this role. He doesn't have the star power, the gravitas, to be the shining white (so to speak) hero in this piece, especially against a friendly assassin. He is woefully miscast.

And the idea that the detective on the trail of a vigilante killer in The Big Apple would be allowed to saunter along the hallways as if there's no management or media pressure on him, taking time enough to appear on this poet's show -- several times -- is just ludicrous.

So, in the end, there's no feeling of completeness, no sense of justice, and no sense of empathy for any of these people, with the great exception of Erica.

Thumb's down.

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