"The Brave One," is a revenge film that is different then most revenge films. What director Neil Jordan does to separate this film from others is that he immerses the audience through the psychology and consequences when one decides to take the law into their own hands, rather then focusing on the killing spree and violence of other similar pictures.
In "The Brave One," Foster plays a radio talk show host, Erica in New York City and is caught up in the illusion of a safe, happy life. She's engaged to a handsome doctor, and carries a distinguished radio show, but all this crumbles into pieces after a fateful run in with punks in a park assault Erica and her fiancée, leaving Foster battered and bloody and her fiancée dead.
After Erica is in a coma for three weeks, the scars from the experience paralyze her emotions. Foster's raw emotion comes through in her acting with great strength, as we see this tidal wave of tragedy ruin her entire life. The city that she once loved now is seen as a dark, hostile, soulless environment as she sees the repressive pry on the weak and the law seems powerless to stop it. After failing at reaching detectives to help find her husbands killer, and her own fear for her safety, she decides to pick up a gun to protect herself.
Erica's own morality is changed forever, after she witnesses a man gunning down his wife at a connivance store. She begins to wallow and cry in fear, but her pain of her past causes her to act in anger as she guns the man down. The experience causes Erica to feel dignified and unafraid. She does not want to be an innocent, vulnerable bystander to the repressive anymore, and does not want to shy away from the repressive when they come across her.
The process of her road down to becoming an avenging angel is a slow digression, and witnessing her developing resistance towards injustice is very moving to watch. Most thrillers such as this one have plots that seem strained, but "The Brave One's" storyline gives much time for the viewer to understand Erica's emotions and the motives she chooses to signify them.
When Erica meets the detective investigating her case, she becomes fascinated with him, as she realizes that he is trying to put away a ruthless criminal who has escaped the law. To cover for her crimes, she displays interest in him through her work as a DJ and interviews the detective, played by Terrance Howard. This makes for another interesting storyline in the film. She asks him, "is there anything you can do to bring this man to justice?" His reply is, "yes, but it wouldn't be legal," Erica now decides to take the stance as a vigilante, as she decides to bring this ruthless criminal to justice herself.
Erica now becomes ensnared in the endless battle between law and justice through trying to realize where they actually diverge. Foster carries vulnerability in the film but also strength and diligence. Emotional resonance from characters that are real and relatable are hardly seen in film, giving most films a dry and unauthentic look. But Foster engrosses us in Erica's soul. Few actresses can pull off a role like Erica in film today, but Foster stands alone as one of the best character actors's working today.
The film poses controversial questions to the soul rightness of conducting vengeance on those who impart their control and power on others. How can justice prevail when the good do nothing? This question, as well as many more, is raised and the audience is left to discover their own answers on morality.