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The Brave One: A Flawed Superhero Saga

The trailer for Jodie Foster's latest vehicle The Brave One makes it look like a slightly tiresome tale of one woman's revenge. But the chick-power flick also has an alter ego: It's a modern-day superhero story in disguise.

Foster plays Erica Bain, who lives a blissful Boho existence hosting a public radio show about the found sounds of New York City. But her fate shifts when she and her fiance (Naveen Andrews) are beaten by punks in a park and only she survives the assault. How, a friend asks, can you come back from something like that? You can't, she answers: "You become someone else." For where she goes from there,

Llike Batman avenging his parents' death, Bain becomes — without entirely trying — a vigilante who trolls the streets in anonymous pursuit of justice. Along the way, she befriends Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard), the NYPD cop on the case of the headline-making vigilante. As in so many superhero sagas, the relationship between our flawed hero and her law-enforcement counterpart is marked by mutual respect and muted antagonism.

It's an interesting concept, and more artful in the hands of director Neil Jordan than I expected. The performances — particularly those from Foster, Howard, and Nicky Katt as Howard's partner — prove that subtle, natural acting can be far more powerful than histrionics.

Unfortunately, the movie just isn't great. Since the setting and characters are presented in a realistic way, it's tough to get past the far-fetched premise that Bain is getting away with these crimes and the complex balancing act of her life. If the movie relied more on its cool concept and less on hokey Hollywood tropes, it would be a far greater triumph.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

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