The Brave One finally gives me an opportunity to talk about Death Sentence. I didn't get a chance to screen Death Sentence for review but I saw it and loved it. It is the movie The Brave One wanted to be.
Review: The Brave One
Death Sentence was a mature film about the slippery slope revenge can lead you on. It was constantly suspenseful because you never knew what could happen. Kevin Bacon was phenomenal and you see every subtle level of his descent. It was real, raw and tragic.
The Brave One tries to be the more artful version of revenge, but for all its pondering, it still ends simply, wrapping up all the loose ends in a neat little bow. That's fine. It's entertaining but it's certainly not the essay on violence it purports to be with all its voiceover narration and public debate.
There are some interesting elements. Cross cutting a lovemaking scene with the ER stripping away bloody clothing makes sense. They deal with practical little tragedies, like having a service early because they didn't know when the survivor was going to wake up. Everyone assuming the vigilante is a man is interesting, though not really explored.
All the monotone sympathy by rote of the beat officers is well taken. It's hard to have true sympathy when dealing with it on a daily basis. A lot of the plot happens casually without over-explanation. We all know domestic cases so we don’t need those elements spelled out right away.
It doesn’t all work though. All those tilted angles are like Anxiety for Dummies. We get it. She's scared now. We can see Jodie Foster acting, thank you very much. Same with the narration. We can see how she's feeling. They don't need to tell us.
There is a lot of coincidence. The cop just happens to be on every case that ties into this vigilante. I get that after two it becomes serial, but for the same cop to be on those first two, in New York City, is very much a movie happenstance. For that cop to get involved with the vigilante just thinking she's a cool chick, that's really convenient for the plot. The helpful cooperation of suddenly kind Samaritans also fuels the plot.
At least it's not boring. Whenever you see a scumbag, at least you know she's going to shot him in the face. She pulls the trigger relatively easily, so there's no real evolution of deteriorating into violence. Becoming a better marksman is about as deep as it gets.
Revenge movies are cool. They don't all need to be profound like Death Sentence, but if you're going to do Steven Seagal, just do Steven Seagal. This vigilante really has nothing to lose, except maybe going to jail, but with the state her life is in, that's no big deal. There's no other family at stake after the initial tragedy. The Brave One is a basic vicarious thrill, but for being such, it spends an awful lot of time trying to be more.