Bullet Points: Braven
Jason Momoa looks like the second coming of the great action icons of the 1980’s. He definitely has all the physical attributes of stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone but I would argue that his acting ability is beyond what they could muster during their earlier films. Okay, that isn’t saying much considering the content of their early movies but the thing about Momoa that feels most promising to me is that he is still putting out lower budgeted action movies and not just sitting around collecting those Justice League checks. Braven is one of those kinds of movies. It feels more like it fits into the early or late portions of an actors career and not smack dab in the middle of his prime. It isn’t groundbreaking stuff here, just a massive, grizzled dude fighting against bad guys with an ax.
Synopsis: A logger defends his family from a group of dangerous drug runners.
- O Canada: While I don’t remember it being specifically mentioned, I read somewhere that this movie takes place in the Northern parts of Canada. It doesn’t really matter, I guess. It’s most definitely not in downtown Chicago but whether the movie takes place in the Yukon Territory or near some small Alaskan town is completely unnecessary to discern. The setting is most important for the conditions it puts the characters in and the remoteness of the crimes being committed. Putting this movie in the far-off reaches of either Alaska or Canada allows for drug-runners to secretly transport drugs by logging truck. It also allows for those same drug-runners to commit atrocities with high powered rifles without 10,000 people hearing it.
- This ain’t reality TV: By now, any job that is remotely interesting has had a reality show based on. Gold mining, comic book shops, hair dressers, and dress designers are just a few of the many random occupations to have their own shows. I’m pretty sure there is also a show about logging. Whether or not Jason Momoa resembles the members of their crews (I doubt it) is unimportant. What is important is that he’s tough as nails and handy with an ax. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some dark web reality show about drug runners sneaking across the American border with drugs.
- Not the gentleman I remember: I had a hard time trying to figure out who the actor playing Kassen was. I could have easily looked up the actor on IMDb but I pride myself on being able to place names to actors even though I forget most of my friend’s wives names. Garret Dillahunt is his name and you might remember him as the weird dad on Raising Hope or as the Southern Gentleman Jody on The Mindy Project. I know that many action fans are probably scratching their heads over what exactly a Raising Hope or Mindy Project is but I only know because I’m married and it’s not uncommon for me to post up on the couch and sit through an hour or so of one of her shows before I turn out. Dillahunt is playing a totally different character than anything I’ve ever seen from him. Kassen is the head bad guy, and a very bad guy at that. When he finds out one of his drug pushers has broken down on the side of the road and stashed the drugs in what they thought was an abandoned cabin (only for it not to be abandoned) he quickly makes his way there to take over the recovery operation. And he does so in a very violent way.
- Stephen Lang: Lang is getting up there in years and in Braven he finally looks like he’s elderly. Lang plays the father of Jason Momoa and one tough cookie. His character is unique in the film because he had somewhat recently had an accident and now is having difficulty with his mental capacity. He often times forgets where he is or what is going on and that can get himself and his son in trouble. Momoa’s character actually takes his old man up to the cabin to discuss some of their options moving forward. No one wants to put their parent in a home and I don’t think Stephen Lang is the type to sit around playing cards all day. If there is such a thing a therapeutic acts of violence then I would say that this movie did some real good for Lang.
- Killing with what you got: The bad guys find out that their precious drugs are in the hands of the Braven family (that’s their last name) and surround the small cabin. They can’t just burn the place down or go in shooting because they don’t want to risk losing their stash so they attempt a few different means of getting at Momoa without much success. What they didn’t know was that they lost their drugs to a couple of guys who are secretly really good at killing people. Especially Joe Braven (Momoa). If it has a sharp edge then he more than likely murders someone with it in this movie. Parts of the movie reminded me of classic John Woo as Braven always seems to be jumping or diving around something while he launches a hatchet into someone’s chest.
- The frontier can be brutal: Braven keeps the movie very simple. I want to say it is Die Hard in a cabin but it’s probably more like that mixed with Assault on Precinct 13. The villains never really get a leg up on Braven because he’s always one step ahead of them. That was very John McClane like. But having his young daughter mixed up in the situation and his father in the cabin causes some tense situations for Braven to have to make choices instead of just always kicking ass. If you’re down to watch some good old-fashioned ass kicking without all the drama then this movie might just fulfill your needs.
Stick around for some Bonus Bullet Points:
- Stephen Lang and Jason Momoa shared the screen once before in the Conan the Barbarian reboot. They played enemies in that one.
- Zahn McClaron is a Native actor who plays one of the drug runners in Braven. He and Momoa are both in the Netflix show Frontier.
- “This is gonna hurt” is a line uttered once during the movie. After watching it, you could say that it could very easily have been said dozens of times.
- This is director Lin Oeding’s first feature film. Looks to be a promising start, if you ask me.
The Verdict: It seems that my tastes in movies aren’t exactly on par with many of the people who are busy writing user reviews on IMDb. I usually don’t put much stake in those anyways, but Braven doesn’t get much love from the several that I scrolled over. It was a better movie than I expected. Momoa is a charismatic lead in it even though he doesn’t have much character development or lines, for that matter. He’s simply a dad trying to protect his family from a bunch of bad guys. It just so happens that this dad is a real badass.! Braven is a very simple movie with a few interesting characters. They don’t really get much exploration but who has time for character studies when flaming tomahawks are flying around? Watch Braven for the Momoa and ax-wielding action.