A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Criminals and thugs are everywhere, committing violent acts with guns, knives, and heavy boots. The hero is a vigilante, which raises lots of questions about justice and morality. A good cop pursues a wife-abuser who eludes legal punishment.
Violence & Scariness
Brutal tunnel attack features fast editing and disturbing camerawork (sometimes using cell-phone video footage). The attack itself includes hitting, kicking, bodies being thrown against the tunnel wall, and bloody faces, limbs, and torsos. The subsequent hospital scenes feature frantic ER rushing, bloody clothes being cut off, and images of horrific injuries (including visuals of a woman shot in the head). Erica's post-attack face is a darkly bloody pulp. A cop asks a young girl if her stepfather "hurt" her mommy. Erica enters a gun shop, then buys a handgun illegally. Other very loud, bloody scenes include a man shooting a woman in the chest and Erica shooting him in neck (bottles smash, blood on the floor); Erica shooting two thieves on a subway; and Erica holding gun to pimp's head, then shooting him as he tries to run her over.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirty talk between loving couple ("What are you wearing?"); tender, passionate kiss. A brutal attack is intercut with a flashback to a sex scene -- which focuses on faces and close-ups of body parts, including nipples and hands on torsos. Slangy references to people and body parts ("dick," "that little whore," "t--ties").
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Frequent uses of "f--k," plus "bitch," "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," and "hell." Erica calls herself a "super c--t." Other salty phrases ("rap sheet longer than my dick," "Christ on a cracker," "the show sucked," "prick").
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Products & Purchases
In a convenience store scene, the majority of visibly labeled products are Coca-Cola brands (Sprite, Fanta, 7-Up, Dasani). Images of an iPod, with artists listed (Dixie Chicks, Radiohead, U2).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Erica takes prescription pills; Mercer also takes pills (could be off-the-shelf painkillers -- hard to tell). Erica smokes cigarettes repeatedly. Mercer drinks in a bar. Erica tosses her cigarette and pills in the toilet. Reference to "crackheads."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this dark, mature revenge drama uses brutal violence and subjective images to play up its dire emotions. Within the first few minutes, a young couple is horribly attacked by a gang in a scene featuring hard hits and kicks, blood, and screaming. Subsequent violence includes loud and ferocious shooting, stabbing, beating, cars crashing, and a body that's been thrown from a high parking garage floor (viewers don't see the throw, but they see the body). Hospital scenes feature close-ups of bloody bodies and faces. There's some kissing, plus a sex scene (intercut with the violent attack) that shows bare breasts/nipples. Language is fierce, including multiple uses of "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This movie is terribly titled and audaciously plotted; the best thing, and maybe the only good thing, about The Brave One is Jodie Foster's performance. She skillfully pieces together another complicated, determined character trying to make sense of a chaotic world. As Erica Bain, she's alternately steely and scared, restive and perplexed. But if such characteristics have become typical of Foster's recent work (Panic Room, Flightplan), Erica also recalls one of the actress' earliest and most haunting roles: young Iris Steensma in Taxi Driver. At first, the connection, across so many years and movies, seems startling. But there it is: Erica in short hair and a patterned T-shirt, her smallness emphasizing her toughness. For an instant, when her shoulders slouch just slightly and her eyes dart, she could be Iris, looking warily at frightening savior Travis Bickle. But in The Brave One, she's all alone.
The movie has garnered attention for featuring a vengeance-minded woman, since that role is usually reserved for men in movies. But The Brave One almost more interesting for what it doesn't do so well. In making Erica into that familiar character, the film misses a chance to explore how vengeance works, what makes it seem right or righteous. Erica's reactions are mixed: Her newly confident walk is juxtaposed with her concern that her "hands don't shake" when she fires her weapon. It's as if you're watching the effects of all that abuse and violence on 12-year-old Iris, now an adult who sees payback as costly but necessary. Travis Bickle also thought he was on a moral mission to "clean up" the city. But he was only one element in a process, part of the depravity, desperation, and fear he so despised. Erica says she feels like a "stranger" to herself, but her movie makes her conventional, even correct, in her assessments. And that's more frightening than Travis ever was. The film amplifies the drastic changes in Erica's sense of self ("I miss who I was with him") and place with point-of-view tricks: The lens tilts and seems to warp as Erica tries to walk out of her apartment for the first time, the soundtrack is blurry, shadows engulf her. Her anxiety is made concrete when the detectives working her case prove less than interested. And with that, the movie changes too, from a contemplation of loss to a vigilante fantasy.
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Our Editors Recommend
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