My last Jodie Foster experience was Flightplan, so I was a little wary of picking up a new movie from her. She wasn’t bad in Flightplan; the movie itself just wasn’t that good. I’m glad I decided to watch The Brave One because it was a fantastic movie. Jodie Foster is one of the most talented actresses I’ve ever seen, and she takes this movie to emotional places that no other actress could pull off.
Foster plays Erica Bain, an NPR-type radio personality engaged to a doctor. On a nice walk through the park, she and her fiance are attacked. He is beaten to death, and she just barely survives. When she wakes from her three-week coma, her almost-mother-in-law tells her the fiance is dead. She goes home to their apartment, and is tortured by happy memories of being with him juxtaposed with violent memories from the attack. As she walks the streets of New York, she is anxious and jumpy. Before the attack, she would walk the streets and record city sounds to use on her radio show – she talked about the personality of the city and what she learned from the sounds. Now she’s barely able to get on the train.
Erica buys a gun, for what we assume is protection. She is frightened, and rightfully so, to be alone in the city. She gets caught in the middle of a domestic dispute gone wrong and kills a man who shot his wife in the middle of a convenience store. Her days as a vigilante begin.
While she is no longer scared, and spends her nights walking the city and recording as she used to, she can’t seem to avoid crimes. Two thugs steal an iPod from a teen on the train, then turn on Erica and don’t live to regret it. As Erica kills criminals, Detective Mercer (Terrance Howard) tries to find the vigilante that’s keeping the city enthralled. Mercer and Erica meet by chance, and start to talk. She’s interested in his life – what it’s like to get the bad guy, to be the good guy. He’s a fan of her show, and remembers the horrible attack on her and her fiance – he even saw her in her hospital bed, horribly bruised and bandaged.
Erica and Detective Mercer’s friendship continues, and so does Erica’s killing spree. She’s cool, calm, and collected – her hands never shake as she shoots bad people. Jodie Foster plays Erica with the perfect mix of a hard facade and a vulnerability waiting just under the surface. She is 110% believable in this role, never pushing the character past the line between believability and ridiculousness. I highly recommend the movie to anyone with an appreciation for great acting and a well-told narrative.
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