Thirty years ago, Charles Bronson became a pop culture icon as a vigilante avenging his dead wife and cleaning up the streets of New York in the “Death Wish” series. Vigilantism is back in style once again in the new film, “The Brave One.”
Radio talk show host Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) is on a natural high. With a successful career and soon to be married to her soul mate, David (Naveen Andrews), she is looking forward to carefree long life of happiness. But since this is a movie, we know that good times can’t last forever.
One night while she and her man are walking their dog, he gets loose and soon the loving couple is surrounded by a group of angry thugs in Central Park. Her man is beat to death and she is savagely assaulted. The case gets the attention of sensitive detective, Sean Mercer (Terrence Howard) who listens to her show regularly.
Once discharged from the hospital, Bain has a difficult time adjusting to her new life, alone. Fearful of leaving her apartment and literally scared of her own shadow, Bain needs some security. Buying a gun initially for protection, all those plans go out the window when she finds herself at the wrong place at the wrong time. She shoots down a would be robber and something inside of her ignites and suddenly this mild-mannered woman is walking New York’s mean streets waiting for somebody to start something so she can put some hot heat up in that ass!
Her actions start to get citywide attention with many New Yorkers applauding her efforts to get rid of the “trash,” and others outraged of this vigilante who is taking matters into her own hands. Much like the DC Sniper case, Detective Mercer is initially looking for one type of suspect until he slowly starts piecing together the case’s elaborate clues.
He and Bain bond over the pain of loss (he is recently divorced) and their demanding professions. The two resemble the pairing of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in “Heat.” Bain and Mercer both admire and respect each other but she knows that Mercer won’t hesitate to take her down if he has evidence of her involvement.
The problem with the film is that although it is understandable that Bain would be bitter about her loss and the way that it occurred, the filmmakers never explain why Bain went through such a dramatic transformation. It is also unfair for filmmakers to conveniently use fear as an excuse to show White characters blowing away minorities onscreen.
Foster and Howard give fine performances but the film’s screenplay, politics and philosophy rubbed me the wrong way. When the day comes that Hollywood let’s Angela Bassett flex her sexy muscles, onscreen, while she puts down unarmed assailants (that look like Charles Bronson); that in some bizarre way would be justice.