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The Brave One [DVD] 
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For Erica Bain (Jodie Foster), the streets of New York are both her home and her livelihood. She shares the sounds and the stories of her beloved city with her radio audience as the host of the show Street Walk. At night, she goes home to the love of her life, her fiancé David Kirmani (Naveen Andrews). But everything Erica knows and loves is ripped from her on one terrible night when she and David are ambushed in a random, vicious attack that leaves David dead and Erica fighting for her life. Though Erica's broken body heals, deeper wounds remain - the devastation of losing David and, even more overwhelmingly, a suffocating fear that haunts her every step. The city streets she had once loved to roam, even places that had been warm and familiar, now feel strange and threatening. When the fear finally becomes too much to bear, Erica makes a fateful decision to arm herself against it. The gun in her hand becomes a tangible way to protect herself from an intangible enemy... or so she thinks.
Neil Jordan's somber The Brave One is reflective movie about a victim's sense of dislocation and isolation from her own life following a harrowing trauma, which will strike a chord with a lot of people who have known violence. The Brave One is also a provocative drama about the nature of justice, a theme explored endlessly in American movies that typically find law enforcement wanting. In Jordan's film, however, the conflict between instinctive vigilantism and legal protocols is approached with more deliberateness and complexity than usual. Finally, despite its seriousness of purpose, The Brave One, to a certain extent, is drearily tethered to the old atrocity-and-revenge genre, bumping along to the familiar, Death Wish-like rhythms of an avenger seeking successive conflicts with bad guys he or she can blow away.
Somewhat at cross-purposes, The Brave One stars Jodie Foster in a shattering performance as Erica Bain, a popular essayist on a public radio station in New York. In love and engaged to David (Naveen Andrews), a doctor, Erica and her fiancé are brutally attacked one night by a gang of thugs. David is killed but Erica survives, only to find herself a stranger in her own skin, facing down her fears by shooting violent criminals.
With the city riveted by her anonymous actions, Erica becomes an object of curiosity for a police detective (an excellent Terrence Howard) disillusioned by his own struggles to protect the innocent from truly evil men. Jordan's previous films (The Crying Game, Breakfast on Pluto) resonate with The Brave One's most interesting angle, i.e., that each of us possesses a hidden element in our identities that comes out in extreme circumstances, making us wonder who we really are. It's all excellent food for thought, but the film squanders much of its significance by thrusting Erica into numerous, outlandish situations in which her only alternative is to put a bullet in a bad guy. The result is a smart film tediously structured like a disposable B movie. --Tom Keogh
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