The Brave One
Directed by Neil Jordan

Written by Roderick Taylor, Bruce A. Taylor and Cynthia Mort

Starring Jodie Foster, Terrance Howard


The Brave One

This film has a misleading title - "The Brave One" - I guess when you have a gun in your hand you're brave, as Jodie Foster is here, and when you use it you're even braver, but like the rest of us, when you don't have that gun you're, well, like the rest of us.

"The Brave One" is about a woman radio host of a show kind of like Gene Shepherd's - a show where you talk about what you've seen and heard on the street. Her boyfriend is a doctor, and one night when they're walking the dog in the park they're set upon, viciously beaten and the boyfriend is left dead while Jodie is in a coma for three weeks. She's visited by a New York police detective, Terrance Howard, but she can't remember enough to help him.

But she's been changed by the trauma and decides to buy a gun. And then she becomes an avenging angel, or a vigilante if you prefer, killing some bad guys and leaving a trail of bodies along the way.

So who are we supposed to root for? The film is ambiguous on the point; the people she kills are doing bad things; does that make it okay for her to kill them? That's the question the film wants us to discuss, I guess; but is it really something so profound? I assume we all have our own positions and the film isn't likely to change it. The film has been called a response to Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver," where Robert De Niro also wanted to be an avenging angel, and of course that film also had Jodie Foster as a teenage prostitute whom he needed to save.

There's something else, too, about "The Brave One," and that is Jodie Foster, who's in her forties now. She's lovely to look at, is a skilled actress in the role, but she has no magnetism, no ability to command the screen so that we might empathize with her. I find it strange to say that because she was so marvelous in the film "The Accused," for which she won an Academy Award, and which in some ways this film resembles. It seems to me there should be a wrench of some kind, a moment that we can see and feel in our gut, when she decides to cease being a normal human and become an avenging angel. But here in "The Brave One," that moment is lacking. In fact her costar, the detective played by Terrance Howard, is much more human, and we find ourselves much more aligned with him than with her.

And to add insult to injury, the ending of the film is just totally unbelievable; it takes what might have been a catharsis and turns it into a fairy tale.