“The Brave One” traces one woman’s journey from victim to vigilante when her fiancé was beaten to death, and she was left for dead after being set upon by a three thugs in Central Park one evening. Leaving aside the fact that no sane or savvy New Yorker would walk in Central Park at night, Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) is the archetypical “enlightened” (read: liberal) New Yorker: She hosts a talk show on NPR called “Street Walk,” which takes listeners on a sentimental journey around New York City to recapture days gone by and preserve fading memories for posterity; is engaged to David Kirmani (Naveen Andrews) a younger man, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from India; and lives in a funky, not-quite-safe neighborhood in upper Manhattan.
[SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading this post if you have not read any reviews, and do not want any details whatsoever about the plot.]
Bain awakens from a three-week coma a different person, a stranger to herself. Paralyzed by fear, she is unable to leave her apartment building at first. Understandably, once she is able to get past the lobby door, she makes a beeline for John Jovino Gun Shop in Little Italy. She is informed that she needs to apply for a permit before she can purchase a weapon – the granting of which can take months and requires numerous trips to One Police Plaza during what would be your working hours, BTW.
A shady character takes her to nearby Chinatown where she is able to get a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun for $1000, with a box of bullets thrown in for free. NotesThe Washington Post:
The movie doesn’t fetishize the gun (a smallish, uninteresting 9mm automatic) and push the tired line that the gun seduced her into violence. She wanted the gun, so much so that she paid three times its value to a street hustler. So much for gun control: It takes about two minutes. [Note: The WaPo film critic obviously doesn’t doesn’t know from handguns; the gun is a semi.]
The stranger, now armed, deliberately becomes a lightning rod for crimes of opportunity and blows the bad guys away. The New York Times calls Erica “a haunted survivor,” like Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver,” but notes that “her spirit is in many ways closer to that of Charles Bronson’s workaday vigilante in the ‘Death Wish’ movies” because she “clearly feels some anguish, but little in the way of remorse.”
Bain also evokes electronics engineer Bernard Goetz, who refused to be a “designated victim” by shooting (though none fatally) four muggers on the subway armed with sharpened ice picks – the 1984 incident divides New Yorkers into two camps to this day (hero v. vigilante). For this reason, The Times acknowledges:
“The Brave One” … is just as crude and ugly as you want it to be.
And that, the movie insists, is how, in your heart of hearts, you really do want it to be. Its none-too-subtle governing idea is that even the most effete, brownstone - dwelling public radio listener (or New York Times reader) might feel the occasional urge to blow someone’s head off. …
Or as the WaPo put it: “In the real world, liberals do get mugged, just like everyone else.”
As Bain is hunting down the bad guys, the police - in particular, homicide detective named Sean Mercer (Terrence Howard) - are hunting down the unknown vigilante. The movie has a surprise twist at the end, which The Stiletto won’t reveal. Suffice it to say that the entire movie theater in Times Square was whooping and hollering. So The Times is not entirely off base in its assessment that “The Brave One” is “a pro-lynching movie that even liberals can love.” But not nearly as much as conservatives.
Editorial Note: During a stint as a private investigator in another state, The Stiletto obtained a concealed carry permit. In many jurisdictions, a PI is also a peace officer, so The Stiletto was required to demonstrate to the state’s satisfaction that she was proficient in the use of several types of firearms. (And because The Stiletto has a mischievous sense of humor, she hung the target showing the clusters of lethal head and heart shots in the hallway just outside her bedroom door.) Alas, The Stiletto had to give up her gun and her Second Amendment rights (third item) when she moved to New York City in the pursuit of career happiness. Her gun guaranteed all her other Constitutional rights – most important, the right to life. Any minute of any day, a depraved criminal can take that away and there’s nothing The Stiletto can do about it anymore, because of New York’s Sullivan Law and a myriad of other gun control measures clearly meant to render the Second Amendment moot. It’s un-American.