As if returning to the scene of the crime of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver in a strange way, Jodie Foster seems to have weirdly evolved thirty years later for The Brave One, from angelic child prostitute into a kindred soul of her savior in that film, Robert De Niro’s cabbie maniac avenger, Travis Bickle. Foster as traumatized NYC talk radio lady Erica Bain, seemingly slides into spontaneous sequel mode as a knockoff Bickle morphing in gender resassignment into this present day hard-bitten, tough talking serial vigilante femme fatale.
Though unlike Bickle, or real life hooker turned first ever female gun toting serial killer Aileen Wuornos, this girl’s got a grudge but won’t be admonished or meeting her maker via lethal injection anytime soon, if ever. Because in the world view of British director Neil Jordan (The Crying Games, Mona Lisa), who crafts a questionable portrait of a city that seems simultaneously racially diverse and dangerous, revenge is not only sweet but served up with an implicit law enforcement seal of approval.
Bain, whose vocational gig involves doing introspective sentimental journey monologues on an NPR style radio station to appreciative tuned in ears, narrates out loud her impressions of New York City life. Her point of view sets the stage for a metropolis in instant moral decay to come that shatters her world, as she mourns in a nostalgic frame of mind, a disappeared city once defined, for her at least, by Warhol, Poe and, gulp, Eloise at the Plaza.
Erica is also madly in love, and poised to be married to David, her South Asian ER doctor boyfriend (Lost’s Naveen Andrews). But tragedy intervenes one evening during a romantic dog walk through Central Park, when they’re mugged by a youth gang who stomp David to death and beat Erica into a bloody, unrecognizable pulp.
Erica recovers from her physical wounds, but inconsolable grief evolves into deepening paranoia that doesn’t heal. She is soon packing a gun and going out looking for trouble, so to speak, blowing away every potential bad guy in sight.
A kind of white collar preemptive subway shooter Bernie Goetz, but with beauty and brains to spare (one scene pretty much replicates Goetz’s 1984 subway standoff), Jodie’s action hero serial avenger experiences a jolt of instant but fleeting emotional relief and re-empowerment that unfortunately requires frequent feedings to soothe her chronic stress. A cold blooded, borderline kinky routine sets in, where Bain stalks random perceived perps, kills them, and then goes home to shower, throw up, and put on a fresh coat of lipstick.
An unlikely bond eventually forms between Bain and Sean Mercer (Terrence Howard), the detective assigned to her case. A beyond the call of duty loner sort of cop who inevitably surfaces in these types of crime thrillers, Mercer’s got plenty of suspicions of his own aroused about this peculiar lady. But as the assigned shaky moral center of the movie, Mercer may be on the way to succumbing to bizarre over-identification with the victim instead. And audience identification with the movie really rests on whether you’re turned off by Bain’s freestyle, really pissed off judge and jury assassin, or else in the mood to cut this loose cannon sexy sniper some slack. The ball is in your court.
Warner Home Video
DVD Features: Additional Scenes; Featurette: I Walk the City.