Jodi Foster plays a crunchy-granola NPR talk show host whose fiancé is murdered in front of her, sending her life in a violent new direction in this nod to 70s vigilante movies.
Foster plays Erica Bane, a New York talk show host who somehow makes a living wandering around the city audio taping noises and coming up with cheesy narrative poetry describing stuff. She's happy and content, a situation which is happily rectified by a gang of thugs hanging around Central Park one night looking for people to rob, rape and/or beat up. They take the couple's dog, the guy steps up to get it back, and the thugs proceed to beat them both mercilessly while Foster watches in terror.
Waking up weeks later, she's shocked to learn that her boyfriend is dead, the cops don't have any suspects, and they need her -- despite the staggering amount of forensic evidence all over the crime scene -- to describe what happened. New York's finest.
Realizing she's on her own, she eventually returns to work where her boss (Mary Steenburgen) reluctantly gives her back her job. On air, she realizes that New York maybe isn't the safe, down-home Mayberry of her crunchy-granola musings, illegally buys a large gun, and proceeds to blow away bad guys left and right like a true GTA anti-hero.
Along the way, she does, however, save a prostitute and attract the attention of a single homicide detective (Terrence Howard) who, despite all her crunchy-granola pretenses, sees in Bane (Foster) a cold, mass-murderering vigilante. A cold, mass-murdering vigilante that he (Howard) still wants to date, however. It's a little strange, but I suppose, like Gandolfini's character in The Mexican notes, "we can't help who we love."
A weird cat-and-mouse game ensues between the pair as Bane (Foster) continues wasting baddies on her way to murdering those who murdered her boyfriend. A neat twist at the end saves the flick from vigilante cliché overload, but in the end The Brave One doesn't really have much more to say than Bronson's Death Wish or Dirty Harry.