Double Feature: The Brave One, Death Sentence

The Brave One (2007) Neil Jordan
Production Budget: $70 million
Worldwide Gross: $69 million

Death Sentence (2007) James Wan
Production Budget: $20 million
Worldwide Gross: $17 million

The Brave One is about Erica (Jodie Foster) who is living the “perfect life” as a radio host in NYC with a loving boyfriend.  Erica and her boyfriend are taking a walk in Central Park when they are assaulted by thugs.  The boyfriend is killed and Erica is placed in the hospital.  When Erica gets better, she becomes a vigilante killing the criminal element of the city.

Death Sentence is about David (Kevin Bacon) who is living the “perfect life” as an executive with a wife and children.  David’s son is killed by some thugs that are over the top for an 80’s gang movie and David sets out for revenge against the gang.

Another case of the movie industry thinking in twos.  In this case its who can make the best Death Wish remake?  Well neither are really that great to be honest.  Now looking at Death Wish today it is rather dated.  It tapped into a belief at the time the police were ineffectual against crime and ended up victimizing people twice.  Plus it also had Charles Bronson acting like a badass and you just can’t beat that.  They tried to throw in some “debate” about the morality of vigilante behavior but its pathetic.

I personally love when Hollywood wants to have its pacifist cake and eat it too.  These movies are heavy on message about violence not being the answer and vigilantism not solving anything yet when push comes to shove violence is always the answer.  These movies always end with our protagonist killing the main baddie or the big bad gang which is responsible for ALL the violence in the city.  So the moral is: violence is never the answer…until it is.  I understand the motivation behind that decision.  What kind of movie would you have if you had a set up like Death Sentence where the protagonist actually realizes that violence is not the answer.  A dull movie.  At least, that’s what the fear is.  I’m sure a truly talented person could make an uplifting movie about a guy who sticks to his beliefs and overcomes his grief.

Now to get to the two movies.  Death Sentence is just not a good movie.  It tries to compensate for a lack of any real depth with gore and “attitude”.  As I mentioned before, the movie wants to be dark and grim and preach against David’s actions.  But then the movie is centered around gore and action and death.  There are some good spots though.  Kevin Bacon is good as the dad who has a melt down after his son died.  He has a great mix of fear/apprehension about his actions and equal parts Travis Bickle insanity.  And the scene in the parking garage is actually pretty exciting.  If they had more scenes like the parking garage, then it would actually be a fun trashy popcorn flick.  This movie is not horrible, but its not anything really special to recommend it.

You know the reason I didn’t want to two fully realized reviews is because both of these would be the same.  Might as well make one review of two bland movies.  The story of The Brave One is pretty similar.  Basically the acting of Jodie Foster and Terrance Howard are great, but the revenge story has been done a million times over and Neil Jordan doesn’t really add anything new.  As I said in my original review, when Boondock Saints beats you on originality and talent you are doing something wrong.  The Brave One is a completely passable movie and if you rent it or see it on TV, then you aren’t necessarily going to be disappointed.  There just really isn’t anything that can make me recommend it or anything that makes it stand out from the other million other vigilante/revenge flicks out there.

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