The television commercials make this look like some Jodi Foster as Batwoman, kicking ass and taking names as a rabid vigilante out for justice in the modern Gotham of New York. In fact, the film starts out quite quietly, with Jodi as a radio jock doing a “sounds of the city” schtick, referencing the crumbling infrastructure of the old city as it’s replaced by the new and the fashionable.This streak of conservatism is taking to its extreme when her partner (hey, it’s Sayid from Lost!) gets pummeled by members of the YouTube generation. Jodi awakes with a strong sense of fear that feeds a stronger sense of vengeance, prowling her sleepless nights looking to wreak justice on bad guys.

The downfall of The Brave One can be tied directly to its maudlin script and cheap ending. While the performances from the leads are quite good, with kudos to Terence Howard as the token good cop. He does much with little from the written page and a two dimensional character. Additionally, though it felt tacked on from another (better) film, Nicky Katt nailed the noir detective sidekick thing cold.

In the end it’s a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be – on the one hand it’s visceral entertainment (B-thriller?), and on the other hand it tries for some arch conservative, Reaganesque view of conflict resolution. Panic Room was all the more remarkable as it took a B-movie premise and elevated it to art film prowess, a Touch of Evil for the trapped-in-your-house-with-the-badguys sort of thing. The Brave One, alas, is far more cowardly in execution, too long to be a fluffy entertainment, and too ambivalent in its moral message to be taken seriously.