Braven (R)

Action/Adventure 94 min. February 2, 2018
By Alan Scherstuhl
The agreeably pulpy Canadian action thriller Braven finds man-mountain Jason Momoa -- our one-time Conan, now and future Aquaman, and eternal horselord Khal Drogo – gets to conquer the last world left to him. Here he's playing an everyday sort of dude. At least, he does for forty minutes or so, give or take an early barroom dustup that his character, a family-man lumberjack, vaults in to like a WWE star leaping into a tag-team match. Also complicating the ordinariness: That family man is named "Joe Braven," which pretty much guarantees that his weekend away with his father (Stephen Lang) will involve a druglord's kill-squad storming the family cabin. Joe Braven!

You might enjoy it, too, if you enjoy movies about being pushed too far, having a particular set of skills, and seeing bad guys get offed in inventive ways. Any movie badass worth your dollar will bring a distinctive touch to the slaughter. Braven, while not quite an original, comes from the handyman school of John McClane or Denzel Washington's The Equalizer. He'll scope out a room, gather up some tools (fire poker, rope, plushie toy, bear trap), and leave you a couple moments to puzzle over the grisly ends to which they'll be set.

Director Lin Oeding is admirably committed to pinning down his hero's emotional state before the killing starts. And the action is tense and well paced, varied in its scenarios, clear in its geography, shot and edited so that we can see who is doing what to whom -- and so that we can anticipate what everyone's next move might be. That anticipation makes the payoffs all the more wickedly pleasing.
Lin Oeding Jason Momoa, Jill Wagner, Zahn McClarnon, Garret Dillahunt, Stephen Lang Michael Nilon, Thomas Pa'a Sibbett Jason Momoa, Brian Mendoza, Molly Hassell Saban Films, Lionsgate

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