Brave One, The (2007)

Rated: R
Grade: ACBA=A
Length: 122 minutes
Budget: Unknown
Box Office: $37 million US, $33 million Int’l, $14 million DVD

Directed by: Neil Jordan, who’s made a lot of “not quite” movies, such as Michael Collins, The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire, and In Dreams.
Starring: Jodie Foster, Terrence Howard, Nicky Katt, Mary Steenburgen, Ene Oloja, and Naveen Andrews.

When three street thugs beat her doctor fiancée to death and leave her for dead, Jodie Foster, a talk radio host in New York City, purchases a gun and gradually becomes a vigilante who kills those who deserve it.

Entertainment Value: A
Okay. I’m sure lots of other people didn’t find this quite an A, particularly because the highly improbable series of encounters that Foster winds up in, but I really enjoyed it. I thought the character and the developments were all very realistic, and I didn’t know for sure what was going to happen along the way or in the end for sure.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality C, Violence D, Language F, Illegality D
There is some alcohol consumption, a few prolonged scenes or flashbacks to sexuality between a man and his fiancée, and there is a lot of profanity including the F-word repeatedly. But obviously the main issue in this movie is the violence, which is really harsh, especially the beatings that begin the main plot sequence.

Significant Content: B
There are some times where a person who is willing to take matters into her own hands will do justice in a way that police just can’t. When your life is ripped away from you, it’s very difficult to get back to anything like normal. Vengeance, not forgiveness, is the path to recovery. Sometimes you can tell more about someone from their lies than from their disclosures, because lies reveal motives.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
In addition to the obvious themes about vengeance, this movie is also deeply reflective about law and justice, truth and lying, gender assumptions, and the nature of a conscience. I have a hard time imagining people watching this movie and not wanting to discuss it afterwards.

Discussion Questions:
~Erica wonders why no one stops her, but she discovers that many people support what she is doing. Do you think most people would convict or acquit her? If Erica was brought before you as a juror, would you vote to convict her of anything?
~Vigilante movies almost always paint a picture of absolute certainty about who committed the crime. How does this fact influence your thoughts about the rightness of real-world vigilante scenarios? Why is vigilantism wrong?
~What does it say about people (or God) that we are so interested in movies where justice is served?
~Could a Christian behave as Erica did? Could a Christian enjoy watching her behave this way? Is justice the highest form of good? What might grace and forgiveness looked like in this particular situation? Would it have “worked?”
~Discuss whether all of the people she killed deserved to live or die, given the situation at the time.
~A recent legal trend has been laws that do not require people to retreat from encounters. What do you think of this idea as compared with the idea that people should always leave if they can?
~Would you feel unsafe being in the same place as Erica? What if 5% of the population carried guns as she did? Would you feel more or less safe?
~In this movie, despite being a well-known radio personality, Erica only has her fiancée as a close friend. How might the presence of close friends, especially female ones, have influenced the events following her trauma?
~What do you make of the cross necklace which she wears and then gives to the girl?
~Is this movie truly pro-vigilante or not? If so, why does she stop when she does?
~Is this movie pro-gun or anti-gun ownership?
~The detective once says that only men kill like this, women only kill things they love. What do you think of this assertion?
~Why did Mercer do what he did? What do you think of his actions? Would you have done differently in his shoes? What about if you were in Erica’s position?
Overall Grade: A
As I’ve said. I enjoyed it, and I think there’s a lot to discuss in it.

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