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Film / The Brave One

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"I'm Erica Bain. And as you know, I walk the city."

A 2007 film directed by Neil Jordan.

Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) is a confident, content, reasonably left-wing radio host, madly in love with the city of New York and her fiancée David (Naveen Andrews). Sadly, he is killed and she is beaten within an inch of her life by a gang of thugs in Central Park one night. Emotionally shattered and incapable of feeling safe in the city she once adored, Erica buys a gun and attempts to move on. Fate has other plans, however, as she begins to encounter situation after situation that leave her with no choice but to blow somebody away. As the reputation of the mysterious vigilante begins to rise, Erica is torn between genuine disgust at her reluctant actions and the savage pleasure of dealing out first-hand justice to the blatantly deserving.

A touching and painful female variation of the well-known Vigilante Man subgenre (Taxi Driver, Death Wish).

The Brave One provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: When Erica's show is turned into a call-in show, with the first topic about the vigilante, one of them, a woman, talks about how she finds the vigilante sexy. Erica hangs up on her.
  • Actor Allusion: Jodie Foster plays a vigilante woman out for revenge in a city gone wrong. Her first big role was in Taxi Driver, where Robert De Niro plays a vigilante man out for blood in a city gone wrong.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The last gang member is literally begging to be arrested when Mercer shows up to stop Erica from blowing his brains out.
  • Anti-Hero: Erica as the film goes on, goes from clearly defending herself to actively seeking out the bad guys.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Erica wants to kill those who do wrong, get revenge on the thugs that killed her fiancé and get her dog back.
  • Ate Her Gun: Discussed and defied by Detective Mercer when a Sleazy Politician's wife allegedly commit suicide via a gunshot wound to the head. He says that aside from women using a gun to kill themselves is uncommon, they almost never shoot themselves in the head/face, instead opting to shoot themselves in the heart. Indeed, her husband did kill her, but he's killed by Erica before any charges are brought against him.
  • Attack the Mouth: Erica kills one of her assailants by shooting him in the mouth whilst also shrieking at him to shut up as he pathetically begs for his life.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Erica, especially at the beginning, is a sweet, madly in love talk radio host. She winds up killing eight men.
  • Big Apple Sauce: The film takes place in New York, with the attack that sets the plot in motion happening in Central Park. This leads too...
  • Big Rotten Apple: Erica hates that she now fears the city she once loved after her attack.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": What Erica screams as she executes the last of her attackers.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The film presents a more nuanced version of vigilantism than the usual revenge porn.
  • Black Market: Erica goes to buy a gun, but is told there's a thirty day waiting limit after getting a license. A customer notices her look of desperation and approaches her outside the store, offering a Kar K-9 automatic for a thousand dollars, throwing in a box of ammunition and an impromptu instruction on how to load and fire it. There's a noticeable lack of Gun Porn compared to the gun buying scenes in Taxi Driver and Death Sentence.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Three of Erica's kills go down this way.
  • Broken Bird: Erica is deeply traumatized by the attack, at one point saying doesn't even care if she gets cancer from smoking, and can no longer feel safe in a city she once loved.
  • Brooklyn Rage: A couple of the call-in guests who support Erica's vigilante actions naturally sound like they come from the Red Hook neighborhood.
  • Burn Baby Burn: At one point, Detective Mercer burns a picture of himself and his ex-wife as a symbol of finally accepting that they will never reconcile, much to his chagrin.
  • Car Fu: The pimp Erica rescues Chloe from tries to run them both down, but only succeeds in hitting Chloe completely by accident after Erica blew his brains out.
  • Cassandra Truth: In much the same way that the cyclops told his fellow cyclops that "Nobody blinded me" in The Odyssey, Chloe tells Mercer that nobody (what Erica referred to herself as) saved her.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Erica takes to smoking after her attack. She quits after the first shooting. Ordinarily, that would be a good thing, but she instead starts shooting people as a stress reliever.
  • The City Narrows: Where the gang members who assaulted Erica and David live.
  • City Noir: Erica's idealistic view of New York is shattered by her assault and constant encounters of other violent crimes.
  • Compromising Call: Erica's cell phone goes off almost immediately after Sandy (the convenience store shooter) shoots his ex-wife.
  • Country Matters: The pimp that Erica rescues Chloe from calls her a "super cunt" when she puts her gun to his head, she follows up by telling him she'll be the last super cunt he ever sees if he doesn't unlock his car doors.
  • Crowbar Combatant: Mortell and Erica hit each with the same crowbar when she goes to kill him.
  • Crusading Widow: Erica becomes a vigilante after her fiancé is killed.
  • A Darker Me: Erica's even acutely aware of the concept, and doesn't like it one bit.
  • Dead Air: When New York DJ Erica Bane resumes her first radio broadcast after her vicious attack (and subsequent vigilante slaying), she falls silent in the middle of reading her opening monologue. Her savvy producer decides to let the scene play out, and a few seconds later Erica starts over with a raw and emotional impromptu dialogue about how terrifying the once familiar city can become after being victimized for the first time.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mercer's partner, Vitale. He's making at least one smartass remark in almost every scene he's in.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Erica hits this after David is brutally murdered. She struggles to come to terms with his death and deals with her own injuries as well as the PTSD she suffers in the aftermath.
  • Determinator: Erica is hellbent on killing those who do wrong, along with the thugs who killed her fiancee and getting her dog back.
  • Dueling Movies: With Death Sentence, released two weeks earlier.
  • Dutch Angle: The more troubled Erica becomes, the more the camera follows her around in odd angles.
  • Exact Words: Erica tells Chloe that she's "nobody" when the latter asks who she is. Then later, when she's visiting her in the hospital with Mercer, who is asking her who saved her, Chloe states that "Nobody saw me."
  • Facial Composite Failure: When police ask one of the witnesses to the subway shooting to try and ID Erica, the result leaves a bit to be desired. Even the sketch artist explains that people will fill in missing details with the familiar.
    Vitale: Great, it's Jennifer Aniston!
  • Fan Disservice: As David and Erica are being wheeled through the ER, a sex scene between the two is intersped, as the action between the two lovers a similar action is shown by the doctors and nurses (such as David running his hand down her spine in a loving caress, a nurse is checking her vertebra for fractures).
  • Foreshadowing: While attending an art show showing the front of business's throughout the city, Erica sees one of a gun store. She goes to that same store to try and buy a gun later.
  • Gender-Inverted Trope: It's a very typical "good man gone vigilante" story, only from a female perspective, focusing more on emotion.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: During her assault, Erica gets a bottle smashed over her head.
  • Harmful to Minors: The two thugs who, in front of a young boy, assault and rob a teen, calling him a faggot, then curse out and assault the boy's father by grabbing his head and pantomiming him giving them oral sex.
  • Hate Sink: All three of David's killers, but especially the leader, who laughs in a lineup when Erica tries to identify him and tries to kill her when she ultimately comes after him.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Erica's Belgian Malinois named Curtis.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Reluctantly, Erica tries her best to console herself with this the first two times she is forced to defend herself.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After Mercer's ex-wife tells him she not only can't help him, but won't, he proceeds to shotgun his scotch and immediately orders a second one, which he also downs.
  • I Was Never Here: What Mercer does for Erica at the end, claiming the three thugs she killed were going around killing people before turning on one another.
  • In the Back: How Erica kills the street thug that filmed her attack.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted with the convenience store shooter, he is visibly twitching and audibly gurgling on his own blood after Erica shoots him in the throat.
  • It Gets Easier: Erica is troubled by how easy she is able to kill another human being as the film goes on. So much so that when she actually goes out to kill someone as opposed to defending herself, she calls herself "sick".
  • The Lost Lenore: David. Him and Erica were about to get married (with him even pushing for them to just go to city hall have a judge wed them right away) when he's killed.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: What causes Erica to attack Mortell, the guy who Mercer was investigating for killing his wife.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Chloe, the girl Erica rescues winds up with a broken leg after being run over with a car. She's so drugged up however, she doesn't even notice.
  • Meaningful Name: Erica Bain really is a bane to the criminal element.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: All but two people killed in the film is a man, and their deaths don't get near as much invisigation as the women do.
  • Might Makes Right: Erica REALLY tries not to subscribe to this.... and is repeatedly left with few other options.
  • Moe Greene Special: How Erica dispatches the hood who she tells "I want my dog back!"
  • Mugging the Monster: Everyone seriously underestimates Erica, a dainty little woman who had never fired a gun before. This winds up being their last mistake.
  • Never Suicide: Mortell's wife, who was going to testify against him is suddenly found dead with a gun in her hand. No one on the force believes it to be legit.
  • No Holds Barred Beat Down: Erica and David are subjected to one at the beginning, and months later Erica still has injuries that haven't healed yet.
  • Oh, Crap!: Erica, after her cell goes off right after Sandy Combs kills his wife.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: When Mercer concocts a plan to cover up Erica's actions, he has her give him one to make his tale more believable.
  • Police Are Useless: The NYPD doesn't come off very well here; first the two detectives trying to find the guys who hurt Erica and killed her boyfriend have a very going through the motions attitude about it, with one even getting annoyed at Erica when she struggles to remember the attack. Then when she tries to get an update about the case weeks later after not being able to get ahold of them on the phone, she finds out they're not even there, and the desk sergeant can't even find her file. They don't even come close to discovering Erica's actions even though—outside of snatching a security camera video tape—she does nothing to cover up her spree. Erica even tries to confess at one point, but the officer she tries to tell is only half listening to her, causing her to walk out of the building.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • "I want my dog back!" *Boom Head Shot*
    • Before that there is Erica going after Mortell with a crowbar.
    Mortell: What are you, a cop?!
    Erica: You wish.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: You know the thugs that nearly kill Erica (and do kill David) are truly vile when one of them repeatedly gropes Erica. Then the two hoods who Erica shoots on the subway are shot immediately after one, while dragging a knife down her chest, asks if she's ever been fucked by a knife. Then there's the pimp she rescues Chloe from, who may be the most unsavory character in the film.
  • Revolvers Are for Amateurs:
    • Sandy, the store shooter, uses a snub nosed revolver. When he starts hunting Erica down, he does so with both hands on the gun in a manner that would seriously injure himself if he fired the gun (while most of the gases, fire and discharge goes down the barrel with the bullet, enough comes out the sides that it can sever a finger. It's this reason silencers don't work on revolvers).
    • Erica however has no experience with firearms whatsover but uses a Kahr automatic. She does however get instruction on how to load and fire it; plus that model has an internal safety device, not a safety catch that she might forget to release which is one of the advantages of a revolver for an inexperienced shooter.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The DVD cover, as shown above. However, in yet another subversion of the genre, her stare is far more focal than the barrel of the gun.
  • Shower of Angst: After the first time she kills a man, Erica jumps into her shower, still fully clothed.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Subverting this is the point of the film, as Erica has several breakdowns even after she was 100% justified in defending herself, then again after she seeks out scumbags to kill.
  • Scars are Forever: Erica is left with a jagged scar above her left eyebrow after the attack in the park.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Mercer tells Erica that he would arrest whoever is killing these criminals, even if they were a friend. He goes on to give her his gun to finish off the last of her attackers.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Erica and David, to her art show friend's good natured annoyance.
  • Shout-Out: The subway scene is almost identical to one from Death Wish, which itself was taken from a real life incident on a New York subway.
  • Show Within A Film: Erica hosts a radio show. It became a call-in show after her killings gained notoriety.
  • Smoking Gun Control: To Erica's disbelief when it comes to both her enemies, and later herself.
  • The Stoner: One of the witness's to Erica's shooting on the subway. He gets dragged into the police station to try and draw up a sketch of her when Vitale catches him smoking a blunt in a park.
  • The Shut-In: Erica becomes one after the attack, it takes weeks for her to leave her apartment again and even then it's an ordeal.
  • Taken Off Life Support: What Erica is told happened to David after she awakens from her coma. His injuries are implied to not be survivable and his mother made the heartbreaking decision while also being unsure if Erica would survive too.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Erica is horrified the first time she kills a man, and continues to be horrified the next time she does it, unable to get over how her hands don't even shake. By the time she kills Mortell, she's sickened by how she wanted to kill him.
  • Token Good Teammate: In a sense; the gang leader's girlfriend isn't evil, but rather terrified of him since he threaten to kill her if she told anyone what he did. However, she ultimately apologized to Erica and sent her the video of her and David's attack.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Erica, throughout the course of the film, as she kills more and more, goes from scared and horrified the first time & missing a few shots, to hitting every shot but unable to keep her lunch down, to rescuing a kidnapped girl and confidently standing and firing as the guy she shoots tries to run her down, to beating a guy with a crowbar before dumping him off the roof of a parking garage, to actively hunting down those who hurt her while spitting out one liners.
  • Use Your Head: When Erica tries to draw her gun on Mortell, he slashes her with a crowbar then stands over the top of her, so she gives him the ol' Scottish kiss to get him to back off.
  • Vigilante Man: In rare female case, Erica. And unlike most examples, who are either ex-military or cop, current military or cop, or just lived a hard life, Erica could hardly be more privileged, working as a radio host, living in a nice apartment in a nice neighborhood, with a doctor boyfriend. This makes her case all the more shocking and disturbing for her.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Mercer can't help himself when the opportunity presents itself.
    Vitale: (about the convivence store robber) Guy had a rap sheet longer than my dick.
    Mercer: So no priors?
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Erica, after the subway shooting, vomits in a toilet, but only sound is heard as the act is blocked by a sink.
  • Working with the Ex: Mercer tries to get his ex-wife to make the little girl in the Mortell case a ward of the court, but as she points out, this would be a conflict of interest, and she isn't interested in pro bono cases anymore anyway.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The three thugs that attacked Erica and David, the convenience store shooter, the pimp, and Mortell all have no issue with attacking or trying to kill women.