It is about an ordinary guy who faces extreme violence in order to protect his family from a one-dimensional villain who happens to be a drug smuggler.
Just add some other clichés like resistance to bullets and the mandatory one on one fight scene at the end and you will receive a common template that most of the action movies use.
With all of the above being said, the vigorous action-thriller ‘Braven’ will highly entertain you, if you know what to expect from it.
Or, rather what not to expect from it.
If you hope to see a flawless actioner with high-quality martial arts scenes along the lines of ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’, for example, you might get disappointed.
Jason Momoa is not there yet, but with ‘Braven’ he surely solidifies his position as an action leading man who definitely has an idea how to please the audiences.
Shortly after its recent premiere on 2 February 2018, the Canadian flick received a smorgasbord of polar reviews, thus proving that there is much to talk about the movie.
Let’s examine it more in depth.
‘Braven’ tells the story of the logger Joe Braven who lives a quiet life in a cozy house in the mountain wilderness with his wife, daughter and his mentally ill father.
One of Joe’s colleagues with an entrepreneurial spirit decides to use his trailer truck as a way to earn some additional cash by transporting drugs for a small group of thugs.
One night, after the truck crashes in the middle of the road, the criminals are left with no choice but to hide the bag full of cocaine in Joe’s distant cabin in the woods which is only three kilometers away.
The action kicks off on the next day when Joe goes in the cabin with his dad in order to have a serious conversation with him about his problematic illness.
Joe is surprised to learn that his little daughter Charlotte has also traveled with them, hidden in the trunk of their car.
Shortly after the drug runners, led by the vicious Kassen also arrive at the cabin to claim their bag full of cocaine, Joe and his father are forced to defend their house by all means in order to save their lives.
Soon Joe finds himself fighting against a group of violent criminals who will stop at nothing in order to infiltrate the cabin.
Cast and Crew
The stuntman Lin Oeding makes his full-length directorial debut with ‘Braven’.
The young director has worked on movies such as ‘The Equalizer’ (2014), ‘Inception’ (2010), and ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ (2013).
As a director, he owns credit mostly for short movies and TV episodes.
One has to admit that for a debut, ‘Braven’ is a great achievement for Lin.
The role of the merciless villain Kassen went to the actor Garett Dillahunt (‘Deadwood’).
The pretty Jill Wagner (‘Stargate: Atlantis’) is in the role of Joe’s heroic wife Stephanie.
The renowned stage actor Stephen Lang (‘’Avatar’, ‘Don’t Breathe’) does a good job with his supportive role of Joe’s deluded father and sidekick Linden.
In the film, we can also spot the Native American Zahn McClarnon (‘Into the West’) as well as Brendon Fletcher as Joe’s thoughtless friend Weston.
The producer Michael Nilon (‘Left Behind’) and the debutant Thomas Pa’a Sibbett are the writers.
The Positives of ‘Braven’
The cinematography. It is simply stunning.
Filmed entirely in the beautiful landscapes of Newfoundland, Canada, the movie captivates with its breathtaking mountain views right from the beginning.
It is one of the things in which ‘Braven’ definitely succeeds.
The tension continuously builds up from the start and it all explodes at the very end.
Thanks to its suspenseful score, slick storytelling, and several violent scenes, Lin Oeding’s action-thriller manages to sneak under your skin.
Moreover, it messes up with your brain, making you ask yourself the questions ‘what would I do in order to protect my loved ones if I was put in a similar situation? Am I ready to kill and avoid being killed?’
The Action Scenes
While ‘Braven’ doesn’t include any masterfully choreographed martial arts fights, or car chases, it still satisfies with a brutality.
There are plenty of guns and fist fights, some of which involving flaming axes and bow shooting.
Joe Braven is not the typical ex-soldier or CIA operative with the regular military background.
He is rather an experienced mountain man, who uses his knowledge of the local terrain as well as his hunting arsenal in the cabin as main advantages in the unfair fight against a skilled enemy.
That is why the action scenes (or at least most of them, but on that, later) look so realistic.
The Hawaii-born actor allegedly didn’t have much time to physically prepare for the movie as he was just finishing another film.
Known as a keen athlete, Momoa’s muscular physique helped him to endure the harsh Canadian winter, surrounding the shooting of ‘Braven’.
Overall, the action scenes are pretty good and at times, rather bloody, especially the ending scenes which takes place on a cliff.
This is an action movie.
With that being said, keep in mind that you can’t expect a top-notch acting.
But you already know that, don’t you?
However, all the actors act really well and they are all convincing in their on-screen transformations.
Jason Momoa manages to carry the entire movie on his shoulders by skillfully portraying a regular guy who faces extreme violence while desperately trying to protect his family.
Jill Wagner as Stephanie Braven has a small, yet important role and Garett Dillahunt as the thug leader Kassen looks as sinister as he should be for that role.
The Negatives of ‘Braven’
All the respect for the first-timers Michael Nilon and Thomas Pa’a Sibbett, but the movie suffers from its poor script and dialogue.
There are several unrealistic action scenes as well as some plot holes which drag the movie down.
The Supportive Cast
The other actors, however, doesn’t look as convincing on the screen.
Think of the gritty ‘Braven’ with Jason Momoa as a good choice for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
While the movie definitely has a heart and provides some intense action moments, it is totally forgettable, yet enjoyable if you like little atmospheric movies with excellent scenery.
Do you think that ‘Braven’ could have been much better? Leave a comment below!