Jodie Foster's Brave One lacks courage

The Brave One

on September 14, 2007 by Kevin Courrier
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The Brave One is something of a misnomer—there's nothing terribly courageous about it. While attempting to rehabilitate the vigilante genre—characterized by movies like Death Wish and Walking Tall —and give it some contemporary relevance, the picture instead creates an emotional vacuum.

Radio columnist Erica (Jodie Foster) delivers commentaries on New York and her love for the city. Also madly in love with her boyfriend (Naveen Andrews), she's about get married. But their love affair comes to a tragic end when some punks in Central Park beat him to death, brutally assault her and steal their dog. After she recovers, Erica embarks on a reluctant crusade, shooting criminals who transgress the law. As the killings mount, she crosses paths with a homicide detective (Terrence Howard) investigating the murders who has his own issues with the legal system.

It's no great irony that Foster very early in her career played the teenage prostitute rescued by psychotic vigilante Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in Martin Scorsese's riveting Taxi Driver . Now she's in the Travis Bickle role. That film offered a deeply disturbing examination of an enraged and alienated outsider, Scorsese painted a portrait of New York through Travis Bickle's fevered eyes of the teeming city that oppressed him.

Foster, on the other hand, gives a closed-off performance that's both hardened and inaccessible. Director Neil Jordan ( The Crying Game , The Good Thief ), usually a master at creating atmosphere, keeps us at a remote distance throughout. With the exception of one early scene during her recovery, in which she revisits her beloved streets to find that the sounds that once enraptured her now terrify her, we never feel the city the way Erica does. The film fails to capture the organic bustle of New York. When we encounter various hoods, they look like they just bounded in from Central Casting rather than the Big Apple.

For complete coverage of the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, search boxoffice.com using keyword "TIFF 2007."
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Cast: Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews, Nicky Katt and Mary Steenburgen
Director: Neil Jordan
Screenwriters: Roderick Taylor & Bruce A. Taylor and Cynthia Mort
Producers: Joel Silver and Susan Downey
Genre: Drama
Rating: R for strong violene, language and some sexuality
Running time: 119 min.
Release date: September 14, 2007
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