THE BRAVE ONE directed by Neil Jordan, writen by Roderick Taylor, Bruce Taylor and Cynthia Mort, with Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Naveen Andrews and Jane Adams. A Warner release. 119 minutes. Opens Friday (September 14). Rating: NNN
Searching the credits for the Brave One, nowhere will you see the name Brian Garfield, which is a little strange. Garfield wrote a novel back in 1972 that in 1974 became the movie Death Wish, and this Jodie Foster vehicle is a straight remake, almost plot point for plot point.
Consider. A tragic event befalls a New Yorker with a perfect urban liberal job (Foster as an NPR radio droner, Charles Bronson as an architect in the original). During the mourning period, both characters acquire a gun and are forced to use it in self-defence.
After the initial shock, both begin roaming around looking for bad things to happen. A smart homicide detective (Terrence Howard here, Vincent Gardenia in Death Wish) plays cat-and-mouse with the protagonist, and the media start turning the vigilante into a mythological figure.
The Brave One isn't a remake in the sense of "Speed is Die Hard on a bus." It's exactly the same movie with a slightly different ending.
Death Wish, by the way, is an underrated film that, like Rocky, has been tainted by its awful sequels. It's a crystalline piece of 70s urban paranoia from the days when five people a day were being murdered in New York City. It's Taxi Driver without the artistic pedigree. It's also about the death of urban liberalism in the face of a decaying social ecology.
The Brave One, for its part, has a pretty strong artistic pedigree. Neil Jordan wrote and directed The Crying Game, The Good Thief, The End Of The Affair and Mona Lisa . And Foster is notoriously picky. (According to her recent EW interview, she did Flight Plan on agent's orders: "You haven't worked in three years, so go do a picture.")
The Brave One isn't bad. It moves swiftly, and Foster is always interesting to watch. But for all the blather about it, it's a vigilante movie: it approves of Foster's behaviour and it's designed to get us to approve, too.
The bad guys are all plainly very bad murderers, people threatening her with knives. Let her cap a bystander and see how the picture plays. You could say The Brave One is about big moral issues, but only if the question "Just how big a bitch is payback?" strikes you as a moral one.