The ending of film “The Brave One”, when Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) eventually puts a bullet into the assailant’s head without any hesitation, and walked away from it like nothing happens, manifests the vigilante that exists in Bain’s mind vanishes at last. Simultaneously, the masculinity which transforms Bain to a “Night Walker” fades away with the vigilante, as well. Vigilante films have always been the mainstream films in Hollywood, especially after the catastrophic event 9/11. Interestingly, Sisco King considers some perspective in the movie as reflections of 9/11 in her analysis of “The Brave One”: “TBO deploys the rhetoric of trauma to construct and make sense of national history and identity, framing 9/11 as a culturally traumatic event akin to Vietnam in its destabilization of the politics of visibility and gender.” Nevertheless, I argue that “The Brave One” is not only related to the national trauma of 9/11, but also to the societal issues like gender or race.
Usually, audiences deem the role of vigilante is supposed to be enacted by men because vigilante ought to be masculine. In contrast, the film “The Brave One” deploys a feminine figuration to demonstrate a role of vigilante. It veritably leads the conventional idea of “masculine vigilante” to a destructive status. Yet, Erica Bain does not transform from a normative feminine figuration who wears skirts and fears of walking at night into a masculine vigilante abruptly. I assert that the vigilante is more likely to be an outcome of the posttraumatic stress disorder Bain suffered after the attack of her and her fiancé Kirmani and the turning point is when she witnesses a domestic crime at a liquor store, the inner characteristic of smiting males who persecute females arouses. “Later, when she witnesses a man murder his wife, Bain retaliates. This defensive act escalates into a pattern in which Bain seeks out male aggressors and rescues or avenges female victims.” At that point, Bain forsakes the timidity and trauma inside of her, and decides to carry out the mission of defending female victims. Gradually, the process of her changing physical appearance advances little by little, as well: “Her clothes become darker; her once soft and curled hair becomes straighter, jagged; she trades skirts for pants and a black leather jacket; and she darkens her eyes with black eyeliner so thick it almost resembles war paint.” Hence, in conclusion, I assume that the masculinity existing inside females is being compelled. Females have always been a vulnerable group of people who suffer all kinds of persecutions caused by males, which also corresponds to the film that all of the victims are females. In another word, these persecutions are expressed as discriminations to females. The most stereotypical discrimination is men always think that women can never be as strong as men. Whereas, “The Brave One” has taught these conventional men a very instructive lesson by depicting how tough a woman can be after a devastating trauma. The climax, which is also the ending of the film, advances the noncompliance of Bain(also women) to an unreachable acme after she successfully seizes the revenge, evoking enormous resonances from women. Finally, Bain has truly become “the brave one”.
On the other hand, racial diversities can also be sought out from the interpretation of ending in “The Brave One”. In the end of the film, after Bain escapes from the crime scene, Mercer, the black and righteous police officer, intends to cover up for what Bain has done, but he is wounded and left behind at the place where Bain takes her revenge. It is not so difficult to find out that other important roles in the film are not whites, including Bain’s fiancé, who seems like from Southern Asia, the black police officer, and even the merciless assailants are Latinos. These people who possess different racial identities are considered as “Others” or “Strangers” by Bain afterwards and the movie has provided us a perspective that the relationship between Bain and “Others” is never able to become too intimate, especially for Bain’s fiancé who is already positioned inside a coffin. Hence, I suppose the purpose of deploying different racial identities is to allow spectators to become aware of that the burdens between two different races have always made their existences.
9/11, which has already turned into an incurable trauma among most of the American citizens, alerts the nation that violent crimes are never tolerable. Shadow of the catastrophic event has lasted so long that render American citizens to appeal to the characteristic of vigilante, plus, the role of the United States in the world is very similar to a vigilante. It somehow becomes the causes of why vigilante films are mainstream in Hollywood. Just as Rick Altman stated in his article “A Semantic/Syntactic Approach To Film Genre”: “most genres go through a period of accommodation during which the public's desires are fitted to Hollywood's priorities (and vice-versa).” When public’s desire is to witness criminals receiving their sanctions, vigilante films would be created in a surge. Although “The Brave One” is not explicitly related to the national disaster 9/11, it conveys the idea of a famine vigilante sanctioning villains, which devises an image of Americans putting terrorists under punishments.
The film “The Brave One” possesses three crucial elements in order to seduce most of the Americans, and they are “vigilante, violence, and gender or race.” It satisfies with most of the Americans’ desires, leading them to perceive the aspect that the nation is unbreakable by conveying the idea of vigilante. However, as I claimed above, sexual or racial discrimination is also delineated implicitly in the movie. A vigilante like Erica Bain can never eradicate all of the societal issues in America because they are embedded inside the society after numerous generations. I assert the ultimate interpretation of the ending of “The Brave One” is that justice exists inside every human being, no matter what sexual or racial identity you possess, and everyone can be a vigilante in many ways. The most difficult obstacle you will find in order to become a vigilante is about the way you truly discover the rightness inside you.
1. Altman, Rick. “A Semantic/Syntactic Approach to Film Genre”, Cinema Journal, Vol. 23, No.3, Spring, 1984, pp. 6-18.
2. King, Claire S. “The Man Inside: Trauma, Gender, and the Nation in The Brave One”, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Vol. 27, No. 2, June 2010, pp. 111-130.
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