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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: The Brave One



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#1 of 11 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted February 05 2008 - 07:14 AM

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The Brave One

Directed By: Neil Jordan

Starring: Jodie Foster, Terence Howard, Nicky Katt, Mary Steenburgen, Naveen Andrews

Studio: Warner Brothers

Year: 2007

Rated: R

Film Length: 122 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, English SDH

Release Date: February 5, 2008

The Film

In The Brave One, Jodie Foster plays Erica Bain, the host of an NPR-esque talk radio program focusing on New York. Her world is turned upside down when she and fiancé, David (Andrews), are attacked and savagely beaten while walking their dog at night. David is killed and Erica is hospitalized for a number of weeks. Returning home, Erica finds it difficult to work up the courage and strength to even step outside. Frustrated by her own helplessness and haunted by the loss of her fiancé, Erica impulsively purchases a handgun. When she stumbles across a robbery-homicide, she finds herself in a position to use it and then instinctively covers her tracks. Erica becomes increasingly emboldened, begins wandering the streets at night, and is involved in a few more shootings of low-life characters. Each time, she is strangely horrified by her own behavior and cannot understand why her hands are not shaking and nobody is stopping her. As Erica's body count increases, Detective Mercer (Howard), a fan of her radio show who saw her unconscious in the hospital after her assault, begins to piece together that the shootings are the work of a vigilante. He strikes up a conversation with her outside one of the crime scenes, and they become friendly. In the meantime, he is collecting evidence from the various vigilante slayings, and when a witness identifies a woman at the scene of one of the shootings, Mercer begins to suspect Erica may be hiding something.

While a Joel Silver-produced genre revenge flick may seem like a strange project for Neil Jordan to helm, Erica in The Brave One is very much of a piece with the conflicted irrational characters at the heart of many of Jordan's films. This inner turmoil and self-examination as embodied effectively by Foster is what sets The Brave One apart from most of its vigilante/revenge genre counterparts. Unfortunately, the dash of complexity is not done justice in an ending that amounts to a cop-out. Without spoiling it, all I will say is that it is a credit to the very high level of acting skill on display from both Foster and Howard that the climactic moments of the film even come close to working. While Jordan certainly laid enough groundwork throughout the film that the ending did not come out of the blue, it does not quite live up to the promise of what has come before.

That being said, there is much to admire about the film inclusive of the lead performances and the cinematography. Jordan and Cinematographer Phillipe Rousselot shot with primarily long anamorphic lenses which resulted in minimal depth of field, frequently isolating the characters in the frame. This manner of photography sometimes angers production designers since so much of their work is out of focus but it proves to be an effective stylistic choice that underlines Erica's sense of isolation and disconnection. The color scheme favors cool blue tones and is generally muted. The muted effect is accomplished primarily through the production and costume design without desaturating the photography, resulting in a stylized look that does not tilt too far way from realism.

The Video

The 16:9 enhanced 2.4:1 transfer represents the film's cinematography effectively. The lack of deep focus sometimes makes it seem less sharp than other recent films, but this is not the fault of the video presentation, and detail is actually quite good. My only minor complaints are that contrast during some of the night scenes seems a bit artificially boosted, and compression occasionally has trouble rendering some of the visible film grain.

The Audio

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a solid, open, and dynamic presentation. Directionality is used sparingly, although some of the sequences or Erica wandering the city recording sound effects for her radio show are impressively dimensional. Dolby Digital 5.1 alternate language dubs are available in French and Spanish.

The Extras

All of the extras and promotional material are presented in letterboxed 4:3 video with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

From the Special Features menu, the first extra is I Walk the City, a 21 minute and 38 seconds featurette covering the film's production. While largely assembled from on-set interviews as is typical of electronic-press-kit materials, this featurette has a bit more depth than the traditional promotional fluff piece. After a short introduction, the featurette is broken up via on-screen titles (but not, alas, on-disc chapter stops) into three sections. First up is Evolution of the Brave One, which focuses on how the project came together including the evolution of the screenplay inclusive of the contributions of the two credited writers with input from the producers and directors. City as a Character focuses on the Production Design and the use of New York locations. Patience and Endurance: The Actors focuses on Howard and Foster, with details on their working methods and their thoughts on the characters they play in the film. On camera interview participants include Foster, Executive Producer Joel Silver, Neil Jordan, Producer Susan Downey, Screenwriter Roderick Taylor, Screenwriter Cynthia Mort, Terence Howard, Executive Producer Herb Gains, Production Designer Kristi Zea, Director of Photography Phillipe Rousselot, Location Manager Robert T. Striem, and Police Consultant Neil Carter.

The second choice from the Special Features Menu is Additional Scenes. This consists of five deleted or extended scenes running a total of six minutes and 26 seconds. They are not selectable individually from the disc menu, but they are individually chapter encoded. Descriptions are as follows:
  • Sequence of Erica walking the streets of New York with her microphone and recorder during the day.
  • Nicole visits Erica after the assault, expresses concern over her health, and tries to coerce her into joining a self-defense class.
  • An extension of the scene between Detective Mercer and his ex-wife where she drops another personal bomb-shell on him
  • Mercer listens to a tape of Murrow's wife
  • Mercer inquires by phone about the status of the investigation into the assault of Erica and David
When the disc is first spun up, the viewer is greeted with the following promotional clips:
  • DVD Trailer for Michael Clayton (32 seconds)
  • DVD trailer for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (32 seconds)
  • Theatrical teaser for Get Smart (one minute fourteen seconds)
  • DVD trailer for Shoot 'Em Up (36 seconds)
Packaging

The film is packaged in a standard Amaray-style case with no inserts. The Cover image is a close-up of Jodie Foster with a gun raised and her bangs covering her aiming eye.

Summary

The Brave One offers a somewhat fresh spin on a tired genre, but comes up short of greatness due to a cop-out ending. Foster and Howard give excellent performances that elevate the material way beyond the norm for the typical vigilante/revenge flick. The DVD is presented with solid audio and video quality with a handful of mildly interesting deleted scenes and a featurette that has a little more depth than a typical electronic press kit piece, but not enough to be comprehensive.

Regards,

[PG]118371702[/PG]
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#2 of 11 TonyD

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Posted February 15 2008 - 06:17 PM

Howard was great but nothing else stood out to me.
just run of the mill revenge vigilante story.

i am surprised no one has responded on the review.

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#3 of 11 JohnRice

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Posted February 15 2008 - 08:06 PM

Ken, I agree with your assessment of this film. I found it compelling in several ways, as well as overly long. An all too common complaint these days. I also was seriously put off by the ending, though it did not ruin the entire experience.

The most common mistake is passing it off as a revenge flick. That's really not what it is about.

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#4 of 11 BethHarrison

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Posted February 15 2008 - 09:16 PM

I was going to blind buy this film as I am a fan of Jodie Foster. Is it worth it?

BTW, that coverart is really awful

#5 of 11 Jeff_A

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Posted February 16 2008 - 01:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BethHarrison
I was going to blind buy this film as I am a fan of Jodie Foster. Is it worth it?

If you are a fan of Jodie Foster - absolutely!

#6 of 11 TonyD

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Posted February 16 2008 - 04:44 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRice
Ken, I agree with your assessment of this film. I found it compelling in several ways, as well as overly long. An all too common complaint these days. I also was seriously put off by the ending, though it did not ruin the entire experience.

The most common mistake is passing it off as a revenge flick. That's really not what it is about.
not really a mistake, just the way i saw the film, my opinion and all.

you said what it isn't about without saying what you think it is about.

i checked over in movies and found the official discussion.
http://www.hometheat....on-thread.html

john since you saw it differently from me and just about everyone over there could you offer
your thoughts so we know what they are.

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#7 of 11 JohnRice

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Posted February 16 2008 - 05:56 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BethHarrison
I was going to blind buy this film as I am a fan of Jodie Foster. Is it worth it?
Jodie is excellent, but don't expect Death Wish.


As far as my interpretation of the film, my most profound apologies for not writing a full review.

I see over and over how this is "A typical revenge flick" or a "tired action flick", but I believe this is clearly a gross misinterpretation. For one, if it is an "Action" flick, there is virtually no action, so what makes it an action flick? Most people see the premise and say "Oh, Death Wish with Jodie Foster" and never change that position, as well as condemning it for not being what they mistakenly expected.

I see The Brave One somewhat in the same vein as American Psycho, without the dark humor. In one, the main character's identity and "soul" if you will, have been lost to greed. In the other, it has been taken through trauma. Now She walks the city she used to love something of a shell, wondering what happened to her. She is anything but Charles Bronson. I think most people went into the movie expecting Michael Bay (for lack of a better example) but this is Neil Jordan. More intent observation is needed.

Having said that, the ending is a disappointment.

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#8 of 11 Jon Martin

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Posted February 16 2008 - 06:53 AM

Enough time has passed, so my feelings have cooled a bit, but I absolutely despised this film.

DEATH WISH was a more honest version of the story. And for those saying that this isn't a revenge film because Neil "Where's my paycheck?" Jordan directed it, the writers previously wrote TV's THE EQUALIZER and THE STAR CHAMBER. They were hardly going for some highbrow offering here.

And that final section with Howard's line, boy did I hate this film.

So, I would highly advise against a blind buy.

#9 of 11 TonyD

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Posted February 16 2008 - 06:54 AM

i didnt expect an action flick.
i really had no expectations on the movie.

i didnt have much of an idea on what it was about.

the only thing i gathered from the trailer was foster appeared to be a vigilante.


i do see what you mean.
i still disagree. except for the ending disappointment.
Posted Image

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#10 of 11 JohnRice

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Posted February 16 2008 - 07:27 AM

Well, I don't think it is great or anything. I'd give it Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image/Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image. Maybe only Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image due to the ending.

Beyond that, I have found that once most people decide to despise a movie, they never change from that stance. They refuse to look at it with fresh eyes. It's like their very life depends on maintaining the same perspective. Sometimes it's a nice thing to accomplish though.

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#11 of 11 ErichH

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Posted February 16 2008 - 06:42 PM

Ran this one today out of curiosity. I don't think I'll own it, but Tarence Howard is solid in this and last year's Hunting Party.

I agree, the last scene is a little too tidy.





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