The latest film from Neil Jordan is called The Brave One, but I'd be willing to bet money that the working title was The Stranger, since the word stranger is used repeatedly throughout the film to describe the alienated condition of the main character, a sotto voce radio personality played by Jodie Foster who turns into a piece-packing thrill-killer after being beaten nearly to death by some punks in Central Park and seeing her fiancé murdered by the same punks. That premise is oddly dated, of course, thanks to the extreme Disneyfication of New York City in the 90s, and TheBrave One isn't brave or creative enough to simply posit an alternate 2007 in which those reforms never happened. Instead, the pre-existing societal ills that fuel Foster's character are laid out during a radio commentary she gives over the opening credits: chief among them is the fact that the Plaza Hotel is being closed down and her memories of Eloise are being tarnished! This is Death Wish meets Sex and the City, with all the seriousness that implies.

By choosing not to paint a portrait of a New York roiled by crime again -- at one point, a radio caller notes that the emergence of the vigilante is actually welcome, since New York has become so dull -- the film has little recourse except to make Foster's character one of the most unlucky people alive: after the brutal beating and murder in the park by a small gang of hoods -- her fiancé is played in a few early scenes by Naveen Andrews -- she becomes, in short order, the victim of knife-wielding, would-be rapists on the subway, walks in on a first-degree murder in progress and must defend herself against the killer, and happens upon a murderous pimp who mistakes her for a hooker. It's like a blood-and-guts version of that Lindsay Lohan movie where the main character's luck inexplicably turns to pot overnight. As long as the film has trouble looking for Foster instead of Foster looking for trouble, it's not saying much, really. It's only when her character starts to enjoy the violence that things start to get (mildly) interesting.