out of Five
Running time: 122
Foster is terrific and Jordan's direction is impressive, but the film doesn't quite succeed, due to the strain of trying to be both angry revenge thriller and emotional, thought-provoking drama.
What's it all about?
Jodie Foster stars as Erica, a New York radio host whose seemingly perfect life with her fiance (Naveen Andrews) is shattered when the pair are victims of a horrific attack. Erica survives but her crippling fear causes her to buy a gun to defend herself and sure enough, it isn't long before she has occasion to use it.
As Erica turns hand-wringing, gun-toting vigilante (like a cuter Charles Bronson), she develops a relationship with Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard), who's assigned to investigate her case. However, Mercer is also investigating the spate of vigilante killings and when the coincidences start piling up he becomes increasingly suspicious.
Foster is superb as Erica, expertly striking a tricky balance between heart-breakingly vulnerable and balls-of-steel tough, while Howard is equally good as the sympathetic detective. However, the film practically ignores its supporting cast – it seems as if Mary Steenburgen (as Erica's boss) and Jane Adams (as Erica's friend) both had scenes that ended up on the cutting-room floor.
Director Neil Jordan orchestrates some extremely suspenseful sequences, though he goes a little overboard on the initial attack, which may be too brutal for the weak of stomach. He also probably shouldn't have bothered with Foster's unconvincing body double for the sex scene.
The film's biggest problem is that in trying to be both thought-provoking emotional drama and violent revenge thriller, it ends up weakening both elements. It also veers dangerously close to unintentionally funny bad movie territory in places, though it does at least manage to make some interesting points about the public perception of vigilantism, and by implication, revenge movies.
Though nowhere near as important as it thinks it is, The Brave One is still a decent thriller that's worth seeing for the performances by Foster and Howard.