The Brave One starring Jodie Foster is in the same vain as her recent thrillers, Flightplan and Panic Room, only this one is grittier and more harrowing. This intense story is like a female Batman tale, but without the cape and mask. Yes, we’ve all seen revenge movies like this before, Payback etc, but the vigilantes are usually men and sometimes hard-boiled. However, in The Brave One, Jodie Foster is the revenge thirsty heroine that can’t take it anymore.

After a brutal attack in Central Park kills Erica Bane’s fianc©, played by Naveen Andrews a.k.a Sayid from TV’s Lost, Erica retreats into a lonely world of fear and hate. The opening attacks aren’t for the squeamish though, I had to keep looking away and reminding myself that it was just a movie. The rest of the violence in the film is a little less personal but still pretty gritty. The fear I mentioned that Erica has is well shown on the screen in Vertigo-like shots and blurred out backgrounds that close in on Erica as she tries to leave her apartment. Maybe because I’m recently engaged myself that I connected more with Erica’s character, but everyone in the theater kept jumping and cringing as well, so I wasn’t alone in my over empathy.

Erica’s fear later turns into a misguided purpose as she decides to take matters into her own hands by punishing “bad guys” on the street with her illegal nine millimeter. Although each bad guy seems to deserve her justice she quickly becomes just as unlawful as her original attackers. The tagline of the film even asks, “How many wrongs make it right?”

Unlike other thrillers this one is extremely well acted; obviously by the two-time Academy Award winning Foster, but also by Terrence Howard from Crash and Hustle & Flow who plays the NYPD detective who is following the vigilante killings and is also a listener to Erica’s talk radio show. His character is really interesting too and I enjoyed watching his thoughtful stares as he processed the different crime scenes and connects with Erica’s pain. Other supporting characters include Mary Steenburgen — where has she been?

The Upside: Foster’s raw emotion is captivating.

The Downside: It portrays New York as a horrible, unlivable city. You’ll also think about this intense thriller long after you walk out the theater.

On the Side: Foster starred as a prostitute in Taxi Driver, where DeNiro’s Travis Bickle plays vigilante and kills her pimp and “saves” her character. In The Brave One, it’s Foster doing the saving of a young female prostitute almost mirroring DeNiro’s lone justice role. Not too suprising considering that Foster has been quoted saying the following about Taxi Driver, “I think it’s one of the finest films that’s ever been made in America. It’s a statement about America. About violence. About loneliness. Anonymity. Some of the best works are those that have tried to imitate that kind of film, that kind of style. It’s just a classic.”

Grade: A-

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