Bain of existence

It’s OK, Miss Foster. We’re from the Screen Actors’ Guild. This is an intervention. You’ve been making a lot of crappy films lately.

It’s OK, Miss Foster. We’re from the Screen Actors’ Guild. This is an intervention. You’ve been making a lot of crappy films lately.

Rated 1.0

At what point can you declare Jodie Foster’s status as a reputable movie star in palpable trouble? The last time she made a really good movie was 2002’s Panic Room. Before that, her last good flick was The Silence of the Lambs, and that was 16 years ago. Don’t try to tell me the likes of Nell, Sommersby, and Maverick were any good, for I would laugh mockingly, and that would be rude on my part.

Foster is back in the revenge thriller The Brave One, and it’s one of the worst movies in a 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, which has all sorts of implications. Erica ambles around taping ambient sound and talks in one of those sultry, slow, Hollywood DJ voices.

She and her boyfriend (Naveen Andrews) go for an ill-advised walk in the park with their dog. Some gangbangers kick the living shit out of the pair, videotaping the beating, so 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 gig of incidental movie characters in the sky. She tries to work with the law to solve the case of the murdered boyfriend, but the cops are rude and basically ignore her. Message to director Neil Jordan: A major radio star’s boyfriend is killed in Manhattan. Sorry, 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, the story might’ve made more sense.

Erica buys a gun, and this is where the fun begins: While purchasing 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 domestic nightmare 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 Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard), a cop who 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 crappy radio show. Mercer gets all sorts of hints that Erica is the vigilante, but he’s too preoccupied with his own problems. Or, he’s just one lousy detective.

This is the second Death Wish rehash in less than a month. Kevin Bacon fared a little better in the ridiculous 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 so that he cuts shots of her lovemaking with shots of her having bloody clothes 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 death rampage, it’s 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, Kevin 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. I’m not a giant fan of her action movies. She’s a great actress slumming in schlock, and enough is enough.