No, that is not a typo. It is not supposed to be Braver or Brave. Braven is the name of Jason Momoa, the title character of his latest action picture. Joe Braven, to be exact. He lives in what looks like the Pacific Northwest and works for the logging industry. He has a happy life with his wife, daughter and his father, Linden (Stephen Lang) who lives with them as well and seems as if Linden is in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. One night, Linden wanders into town to the local watering hole and tries to get a woman to leave with him, thinking she is his recently deceased wife. It is not the first time this has happened, either.
A fight ensues and Joe is called to come and get his dad. A fight ensues and they end up at the local hospital where the doctor suggests a new line of supervised care. “He is not going into a (nursing) home”, Joe quips and walks off. Joe cannot deny that there needs to be a change so the following day he loads up the truck and his dad to go to their cabin for some father/son time and a talk about Linden’s future. Unbeknownst to them, the local drug gang led by a nasty killer, Kassen (Garret Dillahunt) has stashed their dope in Joe’s shed and now they want it back.
I could go on to describe the plot but it is not necessary. This home-under-siege gimmick has been used before and done better. Jason Momoa, who will be taking the lead reigns to Aquaman later this year, as the heroic lead to Braven is a good choice for this role. They try to humanize him as Joe Braven as a guy who is torn about how best to take care of his father and do what is best for him but keep him safe, too. But before they can establish any of that the action kicks in. I understand that Braven is marketed as an action film but the actual action does not start until about fifty minutes into the film.
Normally that would be okay if there is some meat given to these characters. I could connect with them and their predicament. But Braven is not nearly interesting enough to supply the drama and flesh out its characters which makes the action routine, for the most part. Jason Momoa has a strong screen presence not just because of his huge physique but he has some depth to his acting. He has a way to go before we start talking about Oscar caliber acting, but he is on his way and getting a lot better with each film. The problem is not Jason Momoa in Braven.
The story in Braven is creaky and predictable. Garret Dillahunt as the main bad guy is indistinguishable from countless other bad guys. He does what the role requires, but not much past that. In fact, there is very little that happens in Braven you won’t see coming which is unfortunate and that is too bad because there are some good elements that are wasted. Momoa is solid as the lead and Stephen Lang is great as Linden. I even enjoyed Jill Wagner who plays Braven’s lovely wife, Stephanie. But there is not one character here that feels fresh or new. Instead, we have a slow boil drama that develops into nothing but a mindless action picture and a standard one, at that.
Lin Oeding directs Braven with an earnest touch and tries to make an ambitious film but the script penned by Michael Nilon and Thomas Pa’a Sibbett never seems to get past the first stage. It sets up the plot nicely and goes nowhere with it and ends up on autopilot. Oeding has some flair for the action but after a while, I was checking my watch and at a runtime of only ninety-three minutes, Braven still seems a bit long. The cinematography by Brian Andrew Mendoza is stunning and he makes great use of the locales of Newfoundland, Canada where this film was shot. The views are stunning and the score by Justin Small and Ohad Benchetrit is excellent. These are small consolation prizes to an otherwise pedestrian and standard film.
Braven – ** out of 5
Braven – Rated R for language and graphic violence
Braven – Runtime is 93 minutes
Braven is now playing in select cities, On Demand and subscription services. Check your local listings for times, locations, pricing and availability.