I don't have it in me for a 9/11 essay this year. There's enough incendiary information out there, and I lack the wisdom to calm people down. But the day was fresh on my mind as I saw a sneak preview of The Brave One, which loosely addresses fear and victimization in New York City.
As a revenge fantasy, it does its job, but not well. Jodie Foster plays a talk radio DJ who considers herself a fearless and streetwise NYC native until she and her fiance (Naveen Andrews) are attacked by young criminals. As expected, the Indian guy has to die.
At this point the filmmakers do two things that sort of lose me for the rest of the movie. First, they indulge their foley artists and let us hear every crack and thud of the attack. Lovely. Then, for some bizarre reason, they juxtapose the emergency room footage with a flashback sex scene, pairing the images of bedroom nudity and hospital nudity. Both seemed gratuitous. Maybe there's a message there beyond "this is icky," but I didn't see it.
Better care is taken in the evolution of the main character from victim to vigilante. Though capeless, she enters the night with a sense of purpose, and trouble seems to find her. Soon she starts to approach her prey with a passionless justification that I found surprising, but plausible. Her gender sort of exempts her from consideration of the detective (Terrence Howard) who befriends her and remains a few steps behind.
The movie could have better capitalized on the DJ angle; she returns to the airwaves, only to find herself disgusted with the city's positive response to the vigilante. A more clever script might have had her talk through her troubles and call for community action, in effect owning up to her role without revealing it.
The detective eventually figures out the vigilante's identity, and by the climax stands in her way of completing her revenge. Won't reveal exactly what happens, but the more vocal members in the audience left with a bit of delayed satisfaction.