review by Bobby Blakey
I have been a big fan of Jason Mamoa since his breakout role on Stargate: Atlantis. Since then though he has taken on some great roles including both Conan and Aquaman as well as some smaller excellent ones including his directorial debut with Road to Paloma. Now he is taking on another action role with Braven alongside Stephen Lang and Garrett Dillahunt.
Braven follows Joe and his father who arrive at their remote hunting cabin where they’re hoping for a quiet weekend. What they find is a stash of heroin, hidden in the cabin by drug traffickers. When the criminals suddenly descend upon the cabin, Joe and his father must make a kill-or-be-killed stand for survival. Going into this film I was ready to see Mamo kick some major ass and while he does it was not the movie overall I had expected, which is both good and bad. The story is much like a lot of the films made in the 80s and 90s, but at only an hour and a half I was surprised how little action is really here.
For about the first 40 minutes of the film outside of a bar fight you get very little action and instead spend a lot of time watching the life of Mamoa and his family. This showcases a different side of Mamoa than fans are used to allowing him to do more than just bust heads. This element of the film is good, but my perception of what I was getting from the trailer made it drag a bit. This isn’t a bad film just what I like to call cluttered promotion that sets up something that is not fully accurate. Once we get through the first half of the film and into the meat of the story that kicks off the action it is pretty nonstop for the rest of the movie.
While Mamos is no doubt still a large imposing figure he is not the unstoppable bad ass this time around he is usually known for. Make no mistake he kicks some ass in a lot of ways including using a bow, a bear trap and hatchets to name a few, but he takes some beatings himself. This helps to humanize his character and make him feel more real despite some still over the top action moments here and there. The always awesome Stephen Lang gets to also take on a more vulnerable role but still manages to get in on the action. In the end this is far from the First Blood type action flick I thought it was going to be, but still offers up something worth checking out and a great vehicle for Mamoa.
This release not only includes the feature, but also a featurette that takes you behind bringing this action flick to life. Grab to your copy of Braven when it hits Blu-ray and DVD on April 10th from Liosngate Home Entertainment.