Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 38
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

THIS WOMAN IS DANGEROUS: A mild mannered radio talk show host by day, Erica (Jodie Foster), becomes a murderous vigilante by night as she dispensed instant justice to any outlaws crossing her path as she searchs for the gang members who beat her fiancé to death on the eve of their wedding.

The Brave One: Jodie Foster Takes to the Streets as a Vigilante

David (Naveen Andrews) and Erica’s (Jodie Foster) wedding plans are shattered one night when they’re robbed of their pet, money, and jewelry by a gang of thugs while walking their dog in Central Park. David dies from the sadistic beating he receives from the gang and his fiancée is left comatose.

After recovering, Erica is initially too paralyzed by fear to return to her work as a talk show personality on WNKW, a radio station in New York City. In fact, weeks later, she is still so devastated by the tragedy that she can’t bring herself to leave her apartment.

When she finally does summon up the courage to venture outside, she goes to the police station to find out whether her assailants have been apprehended. While sitting in the precinct’s waiting room, it becomes apparent that she’s little more than a statistic and that cracking the case is not high on the department’s agenda.

Frightened by the prospect of encountering the criminals again, Erica decides to purchase a pistol at a gun shop in order to protect herself. To her dismay, she finds that she must wait 30 days in order for the dealer to run a background check. Frustrated by the bureaucracy, she decides go to the black market where she buys a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol, no questions asked.

Emboldened by the new sense of power given her by the weapon, Erica proceeds to roam the seamy underbelly of the city in search of the perpetrators each evening. She gradually changes into a monster who has no qualms about dispensing deadly instant justice to muggers, molesters, rapists, spouse abusers, or any other lawbreakers who cross her path. Meanwhile, by day, she resumes her job at the radio station as host of “Street Walk.” However, she subtly changes the theme of her program towards a position of sympathy for the anonymous vigilante who has all of New York abuzz.

The Brave One is a raw revenge movie which borrows heavily from the Charles Bronson classic Death Wish (1974). Directed by Oscar winner Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), the movie also has elements reminiscent of a couple of psychological thrillers, Choose Me (1984) and Play Misty for Me (1971).

In this film Jodie Foster gives her best performance since Panic Room (2002), imbuing her role as a cold and calculating killer with a contemplative side seldom seen in such tales of vengeance. Of equal import to the picture’s success is Erica’s cat-and-mouse relationship with Oscar nominee Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow). He plays the role of a conflicted NYPD detective who tries to look the other way when Erica takes the law into her own hands.

Because the flawed script is riddled with lines which would sound false coming from the mouths of less gifted actors, Jordan should be grateful for the presence of Foster and Howard and the rest of the gifted cast. The supporting cast includes Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard), Nicky Katt, ex-NBA star Dean Meminger, and Zoe Kravitz.

New York is a metropolis where there are close brushes with death every five minutes. Therefore, the presence of a gun toting heroine indulging in a cerebral bloodsport is guaranteed to get you roaring your approval during the denouement as she exacts her retribution.

Excellent (3 and ½ stars). Rated R for profanity, sexuality, and violence. Running time: 122 minutes. Studio: Warner Brothers.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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