If ever there were a film that could bring homicidal feminists and Rudy Giuliani together to share a bag of popcorn, it would be “The Brave One.”
Erica Bain, played by Jodie Foster, is the prototypical woman with a grudge and, unfortunately for those whom she has a grudge against, a woman with a gun. After the brutal murder of her fiancé (Naveen Andrews) in New York City’s Central Park, Bain is debilitated by her fear of life outside of her apartment. Around every corner, on every sidewalk, in every subway car, she anticipates a recurrence of the violence that marred her past.
In our world, Bain might be considered paranoid, but in “The Brave One” she is perfectly rational. There is no disproportion between her fear and her reality; around every corner and on every sidewalk and in every subway car a maniacal thug is indeed waiting.
After 20 minutes of annoying love-banter between Foster and Andrews, which serves only to make his death a celebrated event for the audience, “The Brave One” evolves into a sort of “Take Back the Night” – with bullets – promotion. All of Bain’s adversaries are men, and she wets the streets of New York City with their blood and testosterone. Men who kill their wives, men who drug and kidnap hookers, cruel men and downright evil men abound. Suffice it to say that “The Brave One” is set in a metropolis where the male population is predominately depraved.
With few exceptions, every man in this movie is portrayed as a bloodthirsty beast and every woman as a victim and hero. Even man’s best friend is better than man himself – when Bain shoots her dog’s captor in the back, she yells, “Now who’s the bitch?”
At its core, “The Brave One” is just another schematic vengeance film – like most Steven Seagal flicks – comprised of a relentless vigilante and a set of invariably bad guys that receive their comeuppance. Most Seagal movies, though, are conscious of their simplicity. They make no pretense of being anything more than action films that use dialogue only to fill the moments between explosions, but “The Brave One” presents itself as something more, something profound and liberating for women.
Bain’s most vicious attacks are unleashed on the audience, not on her enemies in the film. Instead of using a gun, she mercilessly pontificates about the sad state of New York City and its innocent inhabitants. After enduring a couple of these long, maudlin and far too alliterated monologues, the audience begins to feel a terror equal to that of Bain’s. Around every action sequence, every interesting bit of dialogue, every enjoyable scene in the “The Brave One,” there lies waiting another insidious monologue.