While not well received by critics (or the box office, pulling in near $70 million worldwide), The Brave One simply follows the formula of a lot of revenge films that aren’t exactly heavy on story, with only a single instigating incident that triggers the manic revenge story, but the thing about following formulas is they quite often work. In the case of The Brave One it follows a formula that works on so many levels that the viewer doesn’t care if he or she is watching a variant of Payback or Death Sentence – revenge films are just entertaining to watch.
After the horrifying and brutal murder of her fiancé, Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) is driven to the edge. While she once praised her beloved New York City for its people, she began condemning it and closing herself off from humanity. Though she continued her popular morning radio show, she took out evil wherever she went. At first her decision to buy a gun was simply for protection but now it was for exacting revenge against those who ended her fiancés life and anyone who wronged anyone else in the city, whether it’s by thugs on a subway or by being a law breaking business man.
I think the major disappointment that people felt from The Brave One stemmed from the fact the trailers painted it to have a bit more depth than what we ultimately got. While it starts out as a haunting and emotional film, by the time Erica makes her second “kill”, it becomes less about her getting revenge on her fiancés killers than it is just about her shooting bad people. By all respects this is satisfying to the viewer—we like seeing the bad guys taken out in the most brutal ways possible, but The Brave One seemed to promise a bit more than what we received and instead it just ended up like the majority of all other revenge films, just with a lot less humor and a little less blood.
While I was never bored during The Brave One, it’s easy to see why people seemed less than appreciative of it. Jodie Foster and Terrance Howard make for an excellent on screen duo, but it almost takes too long for their relationship to get started before we really see the two bond. It’s a small thing to point out as the overall pace of the film was excellent, leaving the viewer just the right amount of time to catch their breath before the next big kill.
The other thing that many will find unattractive is the turn of character that Bain takes after her fiancé dies. While she’s generally shown to be compassionate and kind, her character turn goes in the complete opposite direction, which you expect from someone who has been a victim of such a horrible crime. Still, even with her sudden distrust of humanity, Bain’s new role as a vigilante seems almost super heroic in terms of what she’s able to accomplish. The first kill she’s barely able to shoot the victim while the rest of them she hits with dead aim. There are also the questionable second and third kills which she commits on a subway—although she was only threatened by the people, she had no idea if they were really capable of doing the things they taunted her with.
Regardless of the awkward nature of some of the “kills”, The Brave One remained, through and through, one of the most well acted and finely crafted revenge stories I’ve seen in years. While many devolve into a simple blood bath killing spree, The Brave One spilled the fewest drops unless it was absolutely called for and the brutality of the film really only reached its peak during the opening murder of Erica’s fiancé. While her ultimate revenge at the end was bloody, it just wasn’t as shocking or hard to watch as the initial murder; on top of that, the appearance of Terrance Howard’s character in the end only further justified her rampage.
In many ways, The Brave One felt like a grounded-in-reality super hero story. While she was human, she underwent such a forceful transition in character that she completely changed. It was disorienting at first, but once you accepted the new Erica, it became a much easier film to get comfortable with. It may take another viewing before you feel completely at home with her, but I’m sure you’ll find that she, with the help of a superb performance by Jodie Foster, really helps bring the film to life.
Despite what many critics have said, I found The Brave One to be a remarkably strong film. It teetered into the edge of predictability on more than one occasion and some of it seemed a bit too fantastic for a normal human being, but when you’re put under horrific circumstances like Erica Bain was, it’s acceptable for such drastic steps to be taken. Highly Recommended.
In terms of DVD, The Brave One seems similar treatment as that of recent Warner releases. No insert or slipcover and a strictly no-frills DVD release, The Brave One gives us static menus with music over the main menu only. A short collection of extras (which we’ll talk about shortly) are included that don’t really give us any idea of what it was like to make the film.
Before we get to the extras, we’ll tackle the audio and video portion. Yet another film that doesn’t make full use of the surrounds, The Brave One’s 5.1 audio mix baffles me as quite a few of the scenes would’ve been key for surround usage. If there was anything that was supposed to come from the rears, it must’ve been ultra silent as there were only a few brief times when I heard any of any real channel separation coming from them. On the video front we receive a solid video transfer that is crystal clear and free of any real compression or artifacting. I was worried there for a while because it seemed Warner was releasing films on DVD with highly compressed quality (a few surmised it was to get us to switch to a hi-def format), but they seem to be swinging back around to the clearer side of things, thankfully.
Moving onto the extras, first up is an over twenty-minute documentary on the making of the film itself titled “I Walk the City” with comments from cast and crew interspersed between what feels like more video clips from the film than behind the scenes information. I hate clip-heavy extras, especially since I tend to watch them right after the film, leaving me with a lot of bored spurts because I’m rewatching the same things I’d just seen.
The final set of extras is a set of deleted scenes that is playable only by one option. This means there’s no list of deleted scenes…you just click once and watch them all in a row. No commentary is given and the majority of the scenes consist of character moments that, while would have built upon the film, would have ultimately slowed it down. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s the reasoning behind almost every deleted scene.
The lack of commentary and any real other extras of substance keep this DVD from being as good as it could have been. With a film that was just fun to watch, if unsettling at times, it would have been nice to get a few more in-depth extras. Still, with the film being worth the price of admission alone, this DVD comes Recommended.
The Brave One arrives on DVD and Blu-Ray on February 5th and on HD-DVD on February 26th.