Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Brave One

I Bestow Upon You The One Ring

I'm not sure why The Brave One got no love. Perhaps one could have been jaded by so many revenge themed movies, where things get taken into one's own hands because we believe revenge is a dish best served cold. From the martial arts genre to stylized violent movies like Tarantino's Kill Bill double, I'd warrant a guess that anything more rooted to the reality of today, and in the movie's forced allusion in making a statement about the Iraqi War, will make one roll their eyes in disbelief.

But on its own, The Brave One is a satisfying picture. It offers no apologies to those who condone taking matters into their own hands, and establishes a stage for you to feel good about doing so too. One of the earliest movies I remember about revenge was Eye for an Eye, where as a kid I watched Sally Fields hunt down Kiefer Sutherland. And not to forget one of my favourite comic book heroes happen to be a masked vigilante prowling the streets of Gotham, never batting an eyelid in crippling opponents, all the while searching for the elusive Joe Chill who murdered his parents in cold blood.

In similar ways, Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) is a woman on a dazed mission. She too is in search for the group who killed her fiance and beaten her to a pulp (akin to Robocop), hunting for her own Joe Chill. Along the way, she finds new strength within herself, though admittedly, discovers that she's morphing into a totally different person altogether, one who does not hesitate in dispensing her own brand of justice with her black market 9mm handgun. I for one was cheering her on as she ends the lives of evil persons who have the misfortune of crossing her path, then again, does that mean I got the propensity to do the same? Perhaps. But here's where the movie succeeds in getting you riled up, and throwing your weight of support behind Erica's unlawful ways. As mentioned, it sets the stage properly in having you think the victims are in desperate need of some lessons to be taught, and given that they too preach a brand of violence, they jolly well deserve what came to them. In painting the police force as bureaucratic and inept, it elevates our support level for Erica as well.

But we have Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard) who gets acquainted with our leading lady, as the two of them exchange thoughts, philosophies and pain through their friendship, providing some light that there are right and wrong, black and white, but there's always that shade of gray which makes it a constant challenge for those on the side of the law to adhere to following the book, because any deviation might mean a chance for legal exploitation, and the perpetrator walks.

Foster's role is nothing unique here, as she had been The Accused before, but it's only in this movie that I realize how successfully she projected vulnerability, given her small frame. And she's getting noticeably aged too, with unavoidable wrinkles tracing her face when the camera goes up close. Holding his own against the award winning actress, Terrence Howard didn't have much else to do besides the cursory investigations into a supposed serial killer, being the supplemental detective character in a movie that touches on putting matters into your own hands.

Enough suspense was built towards the finale although it degenerated almost into some unsatisfying Western high noon shoot out, and the ending is probably the best that could be mustered out of the story, despite its quite obvious stance toward vigilantism. When the credits roll, you'd start to wonder if you too could go ballistic when someone else trespasses against you. And I just got to mention that Sarah McLachlan's Answer was plain beautiful.

Answer by Sarah McLachlan
I will be the answer at the end of the line
I will be there for you while you take the time
In the burning of uncertainty I will be your solid ground
I will hold the balance if you cant look down

If it takes my whole life I wont break I wont bend
Itll all be worth it worth it in the end
Cause I can only tell you what I know
that I need you in my life
When the stars have all gone out
youll still be burning so bright

Cast me gently into morning
For the night has been unkind
Take me to a place so holy
That I can wash this from my mind
The memory of choosing not to fight

If it takes a whole life I wont break I wont bend
Itll all be worth it worth it in the end
Cause I can only tell you what I know
That I need you in my life
And when the stars have all burned out
Youll still be burning so bright
Cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind

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