Thursday, March 19, 2009

Movies I Love: The Brave One

"When you love something, everytime abit of it goes, you lose abit of yourself..."
- Erica Bain, "The Brave One"

Its no secret that I've been somewhat disillusioned with 97% of whats been put out by Hollywood in the last few years, its been this eclectic hodgepodge of quick fix action movies with no plot, or movies that are just done to keep a certain actor or actress in the public eye so hollywood can force them and their persona into our everyday lives until we all can't help but care who's sleeping with who, and who's doing drugs in public, and who's in rehab and all of those things that spiral down the dark ride into an Inferno of a Divine Comedy that only Dante Alighieri himself could fully grasp the concept of. So in layman's terms the last few years of movies put out by hollywood have been complete crap, and anyone thats read my work or knows me knows how strongly I feel about this.

Now, I will admit there were afew that stood out as exceptional for me, after all something has to make up that 3% of good I listed above, and among that number stands this movie. The Brave One. A somewhat forgotten post coming out of the closet Jody Foster movie that sadly lasted less then 2 months in movie theaters. Though I can't understand why, it was so very incredible and moving in a unique way. Though most critics who didn't pan it (of which I am one if you remember my year end awards) sited it as Jodie's most violent work to date and possibly her most hard edged as well, and though most shot her down for this, I, among others in the cool kids section of the critics pool (that place we don't let Roger Ebert because he pees in the pool and is also a bad smelling fat douchebag) praised Foster for picking this as her "comeback" movie after finally coming out of the closet and admitting publicly she is a lesbian, though one would argue for hours if sexual orientation should be a factor in the kind of roles one gets in hollywood but thats a side point. This was a great reboot point, it was so different, and similar but contrasting to so many of Foster's signature roles.

The Brave One is akin to those grindhouse bad ass/revenge movies where a seemingly happy and cheerful person adopts a second life of a dark and violent killer in order to avenge the traumatic death of someone they loved/Family Member/Entire Family. So its kind of in the vain of Christina Lindberg's Thriller: A Cruel Picture (or as it was called in the states "They Called Her One Eye"), or Taxi Driver, or to a lesser extent the Deathwish movies among others, or for the less obscure reference point, its a mix of the 2004 tough guy/comic book movie The Punisher and Micheal Douglas' greatest movie (I think anyway) Falling Down, with abit of Kevin Bacon's Death Sentence tossed in, you know, for flavoring.

Jody Foster plays Erica Bain, a popular new york city talk radio show host who walks the city with her recorder recording the sounds she hears as she goes (called a Flâneur by those who get paid to do it), and talks of the things she saw and how they made her feel and what they made her think about as she uses this to express her love of her home of New York City in hopes that it can maybe help bring the city's people together in some way. Personally, she has a great life, a big upper scale appartment in a good neighborhood where she lives with her soon to be husband David and their dog. One night while on their nightly walk through Stranger's Gate (a park in new york city), they are ambushed by three career criminals who record themselves as they violently beat and rob the two of them, also taking their dog and leaving them for dead in the end.

You find out that Erica survived the attack but David did not, this sends her into a deep depression and a strong sense of paranoia to where she won't leave her home for a short time and jumps at every little sound. She eventually is able to leave again and after afew visits to the police station which led to her believing that the police didn't care about catching her attackers or about what happens to her now because she couldn't ID the men who did the crime, she decides to buy a gun incase they came back for her as they had her home address and such. Finding again a roadblock with the waiting period to buy a gun in America, she decides to buy an illegal one instead from a back alley in Chinatown. From here she spirals slowly into a world of vigilantism by first accidentally coming across a robbery of a small local store and shooting one man dead after a short but very intense cat/mouse scene with in the store itself, one of the best photographed sequences in a movie of this nature that I've ever seen, though admittedly every scene of that nature in this movie would qualify as one of my favorites, they're so realistic and beautifully shot, one of that extreme close up on a zooming bullet or slowed down for impact stuff thats so common place these days, you get the feel it would actually look and feel as intense in real life, so amazing. The scene ends with Erica running out of the store on pure instinct, and oddly, a new found confidence in herself.

Erica next decides that she is going back to work with her new confidence in full swing, and after a small yelling match with her boss (played by a rapidly aging Mary Steenburgen) she sits down at her microphone and after a small pause out of what seems like fear, she transforms from optimistic city dweller, to a chillingly serious, and kind of sexy in a commanding kind of way, mouthpiece for those who are tired of all the crime and violence in New York City, she mentions reading about the shoot out in the store in the paper and harolds the killer as a hero who is taking back the streets that the if the police aren't willing too do so, then someone else has too. This brings a flood of calls and outraged listeners to flock to Erica and cheer on her speaking what they were all thinking all this time. This also brings her to the attention of Detective Sean Mercer (played really well by Terrence Howard who most will know most recently as James Rhodes from Iron Man or from the lesser seen but very amazing August Rush as Richard Jeffries), the two meet as Erica decides to start to cover the recent "reign of social justice" this unknown vigilante has been bringing about, as a news story, instead of just doing her normal human interest work. Erica interviews him, then he tells her of a case involving a local criminal syndicate boss he's trying to send to jail when they are finished and the recorder is off. The two meet up for coffee and to exchange information through out the film, there is infact a great scene near the end of the movie where with out actually saying so, Erica tells Mercer that she's the one killing criminals, and he with out saying so, says he knows and is ok with it.

As the movie progresses you find Erica going out and being more predatory, actually going out at night in her black hooded sweatshirt and black cloths going to places that you would find criminals and killing them with out so much as a blink of an eye. In central park she comes across a man who is keeping a prostitute drugged up and in the backseat of his car for many days with nothing but the drugs he's been giving her in her system "for his pleasure", he mistakes Erica for a prostitute and asks her to get in the back of the car and "give her a good time", Erica's new predatory nature kicks in and after she's in the car and the guy brags about what he's doing, and after seeing him hit the girl for begging Erica to call and get her help because she's dying with nothing but drugs in her system. Erica fakes that she is going to have sex with this woman, in a very sexy but very dangerous feeling scene before she shoots him in the leg and kicks the doors open to free them both. The guy, enraged starts the car and tries to hit them both, Erica drops him with several shots from her gun and as he dies behind the wheel, he turns the wheel and hits the girl Erica saved from him before crashing his car into a ditch and dying. Erica drops the drugged up and now hurt girl at an ER door and heads off. When asked who saved her, the girl claims she wasn't able to tell because of lack of food or water and all the drugs in her system, but she recognizes Erica when she sees her later in the film when she goes to visit her with Mercer but doesn't let him know, as to not get Erica arrested, though when they have a moment alone, she thanks her and tells her how happy her family was to know she was ok.

Next Erica sets a trap for two men who have been robbing subway trains recently. She reads the story in the paper, and under the guise of recording sounds for a piece she's doing for work, waits on the train that the reports say the robberies are happening on. When the two men finally make it to the subway car she's sitting in, as you watch them bully, abuse and rob the rest of the people onboard, you wait in almost frenzy like anticipation for all the other riders to leave so she can kill these two with no witnesses. As predicted, when everyone else is gone, they move toward Erica, one pulls a knife and after some short lines of complete vulgarity, she shoots one dead in the crotch and then shoots the other in the back as he runs away. The only problem is, this time she forgot to turn off her recorder, and has it all on tape. Which she sits at home and listens to over and over in a mix of shock, fear and excitement at the proof that she is, indeed a killer, this is where she comes face to face finally with her other side, and eventually comes to terms with it, and decides she is doing what is right, because no one else will.

With out giving away more of the movie, you follow Erica as she takes out criminals that are above or unknown to the law as she does what she feels is her social duty, until she spots her dog in a park. Which leads her to finally hunt down the man who killed her soon to be husband and almost took her life just as Mercer gets proof that it was actually her doing all of these recent killings. I won't give away the ending but it I will say it was a great way to end a story of this nature.

Its funny, you find yourself seeing everything through Erica's eyes and feeling what she feels, and actually wanting her to kill these people because they truly deserve to be put to death, and you find yourself getting more and more angry at the current state of the police with their seeming lack of wanting to deal with anything that won't put them on the front page of a newspaper or on the evening news shows. It makes you want to get mad, it makes you wanna snap and just start cleaning things up because no one else seems to give a damn.

I have no idea why The Brave One wasn't as big of a success as it should have been, its a movie that brings out so many emotions and tells so many stories all at once, and just strikes you down to the core, its just mindblowing how good this film really is, and its filmed in a way that just makes you feel like you are there everything about this movie is amazing. If you haven't seen it yet, honestly, you must, its just so brilliant and so prominent and poignant that its almost an insult to film itself that you don't see it.

here is the trailer, you'll see what I mean...



1 comment:

  1. i have watched this movie, following the recommendation i got here, and i wish to say i am glad i did that.
    It's a great movie, and it doesn't only tell a story, but brings actual questions about urban violence and options left to people when state are is not successful in dealing with that. Which position citizen are supposed to play, what is fair along this road, from being a victim and, on the other end, applying punishments by themselves?