Coming to a movie like The Brave One late is a bit useless, really. All the good discussion has already been had by people who exchange spoilers like they do five cent coins. I had steered clear of it all, wanting to experience this apparently quite polarising (and bipolar, I might add) film by Neil Jordan and starring Jodie Foster as a woman on a vigilante mission. It's a film that needs to be discussed with a warning staring *SPOILERS*SPOILERS* because there is no way to really describe how ridiculous it all is without divulging various facts about the film.
The Brave One felt off for me from the opening moments. Foster's character extols the sort of self help garbage on her radio show that makes sophisticated people weak, and as soon as she finishes she gets up, takes her headphones off and leaves. Even the highest paid radio hosts can't finish that quickly. It's a weird criticism, I know, but it set me off. Another sequence involving radio ratings was also bewildering in it's complete lack of knowledge.
Following this though are scenes of Foster and her boyfriend, played by Naveen Andrews, acting like lovesick puppies covered in bows and ribbons attending their Junior Prom (or, the movie version of such an event, Australia don't have no proms). As much as I love Foster, not even she can make these big giant broad gooey moments work. Not to mention a waste of Jane Adams who appears for a brief moment here and later on in the film. Why exactly they cast Adams I'm not sure.
Of course, Foster and Andrews decide to take their dog for a walk in Central Park at night, which all but sends the film into depressing black and white. I've walked through Central Park at night, it was scary. Walking through any park at night is scary. Yet these two seem to be so nonchalant about it all. The moment these two are confronted by hysteric bloodthirsty thugs is strange, too. Are all random thieves this unfazed by killing one and nearly a second? Same goes for the guys on the train later in the film? "Ever been fucked by a knife" one of them asks? Foster's character has the worst luck!
From the scene where she awakes in hospital we go through the typical things. Her fear of leaving her apartment is represented by obvious camerawork and sound design (the sinking ship effect, where the camera work makes you feel like you're on the high seas representing unease) while Foster grimaces a whole lot. Naturally she purchases a gun and, yet again, heads straight into a dangerous situation, this time a convenient store. At night. For a woman who has just recovered from a severe attack and who appears to be scared of anything and everything, her ease at going into any store at night is a headscratcher. Naturally she is confronted with yet another cold-blooded killer who she promptly kills off.
It's actually from this moment on - well, no, it's more after the next scene with the two black knife rapists - where the film actually hits its stride. Foster starts nailing the broad stylings of her character and Jordan wisely decides to create a friendship for Foster's character with that of a detective played by Terrence Howard. They get many scenes to strut their stuff, with no over-the-top histrionics to get in the way. Where the only things you can hear are their voices.
Of course, all the good work comes almost impossible wrong in the final moments as Foster manages to track down those who attacked her and her fiance (there's a touching moment where the wedding invitations arrive at her doorstep - when she picked up the package I thought she must've ordered more ammo considering she never seems to run out!) Ruthlessly hunting them down through the labyrinthine halls and alleys of an apartment block she is interrupted by Howard's character who does a complete about face and not only makes sure she murders the final assailant (he's even kind enough to show her the proper method, bliss) but also makes certain she shoots him as well as a means of protecting herself.
I KNOW! It's complicated.
It's all incredibly ridiculous and I could barely believe my eyes. I shot straight up and gasped. Then I laughed and yelled "that's stupid!" And so Foster's character carries on for another day, giving out friendly advice to morons who really enjoy listening to a tortured woman discuss how buildings are springing up like DNA (or whatever the analogy is that she comes up with). How could Foster and Jordan - world class talents, obviously - think this was anywhere close to a good ending? It makes a mockery of not only everything that came before it, but also everything that we know about movies. Although, thinking about it in retrospect, much like another woman-getting-revenge pic, Kill Bill, The Brave One seems to exist inside it's own made up world where people are either hopelessly sweet or nihilistically evil. So while the ending wouldn't pass muster in anything resembling the real world, I suppose in the world where every single Manhattan driver apparently listens to dreary self-help radio in the middle of the day, the end is entirely plausible.
Or not. C- (that ending though? F!)
Oh, I totally forgot to mention the worst part about the whole thing, other than that silly ending. Nicky "Christ on a cracker" Katt. Not necessarily the performance, but the role. Yikes. What a mess.