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Slumming in Schlock 

Jodie Foster goes wacko in this lame movie that takes itself too seriously

At what point could you declare Jodie Foster's status as a reputable movie star in trouble?

The last time she made a really good movie was 2002's Panic Room. Before that, it was The Silence of the Lambs, 16 years ago. Don't try to tell me that Nell, Sommersby and/or Maverick were any good, for I would laugh mockingly, and that would be rude on my part.

Foster is back (With a new haircut!) in the revenge thriller The Brave One, and it's one of the worst movies in her once-illustrious career.

Foster plays Erica Bain, a radio talk-show host in Manhattan. Erica's show sucks, and it would be laughed off the air. She "walks the streets," or so she says on her show: Erica ambles around taping ambient sound (like Travolta in Blow Out) and talks in one of those Hollywood-radio-DJ sultry, slow voices. She'd get her butt kicked in the ratings.

Anyway, she and her boyfriend (Naveen Andrews) go for an ill-advised walk in the park with their dog. Some gang-bangers kick the living shit out of the pair, videotaping the beating so director Neil Jordan can do a nifty trick with a cell-phone media player later in the flick.

Erica lives through the beating, while her boyfriend goes on to join that great group of incidental movie characters in the sky. She tries to work with the law to solve the case, but the cops are truly rude and basically ignore her. Message to Jordan: If a major radio star's boyfriend were killed in Manhattan, the cops and the New York Post would be all over that. She'd probably get special treatment. If she were a radio star in, say, Omaha, Neb., your story might've made more sense.

Erica buys a gun, and this is where the fun begins. While purchasing a Sprite (Awesome product placement!), she witnesses a female cashier getting blown away by her husband. In a scene straight out of Foster's own Taxi Driver, she guns down the husband and takes off into the night as New York's newest and gosh-darned-cutest vigilante.

Just to show that cops aren't all bad, there's Det. Mercer (Terrence Howard), a cop that gives a damn. He sees Erica when she's in her coma, and then runs into her again when she's hanging around a crime scene. They become friends, and she interviews him for her crap radio show. Mercer gets all sorts of hints that Erica is the vigilante pulling a Batman in Manhattan, but he's too preoccupied with his own problems. Either that, or he's one lousy detective.

This is the second Death Wish rehash in less than a month. Kevin Bacon fared a little better in the ridiculous, "Vengeance is mine!" thriller Death Sentence, because director James Wan knew he was making a silly movie and went for it. Jordan vacillates between being serious and exploitive, and the tone is all mucked up. He wants you to feel Erica's pain so much that he intercuts shots of her having sex with shots of her bloody clothes being stripped off in the emergency room after the park beating. It was during this montage that I felt the not-so-subtle feeling of a hammer hitting me over the head.

As for Erica's rampage, it is just ridiculous. After firing her gun once, she becomes a crack shot. She even manages to put a bullet in the head of a driver speeding toward her. Again, Bacon did the same thing in Death Sentence, but that film wasn't shooting for realism. It was a straight-up exploitation flick.

It's high time we saw Foster in a real movie again. She's a great actress slumming in schlock, and enough is enough.

The Brave One
Rated NR

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