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'The Brave One'

Jodie Foster plays an eccentric public radio personality — she's pictured wandering the New York City streets, recording her own footsteps — who's traumatized by a brutal mugging in which her fiancé is murdered.

She buys a gun, witnesses other attacks, and is soon wandering the city again, this time blasting thugs to kingdom come. Meanwhile homicide detective Terrence Howard is trying to solve not just her fiance's murder but also the vigilante killings.

Mostly preposterous complications ensue, accompanied by some decent acting — plus a certain frisson as director Neil Jordan flirts with turning Foster's character into a latter-day Travis Bickle.

He doesn't flirt enough, though, to overcome plot implausibilities, even with Howard and Foster establishing an edgy rapport.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.