(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Braven
Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime Video
The Pitch: After his brief stint on Game of Thrones and before he became a major movie star with Aquaman, Jason Momoa worked. He worked a lot. And one of the projects he worked on was Braven, a low-budget action movie about a lumberjack under siege in his isolated cabin by a team of murderous drug dealers. It barely had a theatrical release, but that’s okay. This is the kind of shockingly entertaining b-movie that thrives on home video. Or rather, streaming.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Because Jason Momoa plays a lumberjack named Joe Braven who kills a bunch of evil drug dealers who dare threaten his family. What else do you need?
Ah, okay. You need a little bit more. Got it. Braven is about Joe Braven (Momoa), a blue collar family man whose wife teaches archery classes, whose daughter is a precocious young moppet, and whose father (the great Stephen Lang) is a warm, tough SOB who is slowly losing his mind to dementia. Joe decides to take dear old dad to their isolated cabin to talk to him about their options when a bunch of gun-wielding toughs show up. They’ve stashed a whole bung of drugs in the cabin (not knowing the Bravens would be back so soon) and they want their product back and don’t intend to leave any witnesses.
Naturally, the Bravens (armed with a hunting rifle, a bow and arrow, and toolshed full of sharp things) don’t just roll over and die.
If you need your action movies to be big and glossy and full of boundary-pushing action, Braven won’t do much for you. But if you’re all about movies that feel like Steven Seagal would’ve starred in them in the early ’90s, Braven will scratch a very specific itch. The movie leans into its small scale, turning each fight into a struggle for survival and making each henchman hard to kill. Momoa proves himself more than adept at the action hero thing, managing to look great as he takes the baddies down while also being unashamed of looking fragile on camera, as Joe Braven collects all kinds of injuries and gets really beaten to shit as the film goes on. It’s the kind of masochistic grace that works so well for Indiana Jones, John Wick, and John McClane, and while Joe Braven’s film isn’t as good as their’s, it’s easy to admire the effort.
Braven is the kind of movie where you can clearly tell that’s a stuntman driving that ATV and not Jason Momoa, but you don’t care because director Lin Oeding chooses to film that chase coherently. Braven is the kind of movie where you can forgive the one-dimensional lead villain because Garret Dillahunt is clearly having a great time chowing down on that scenery. Braven is the kind of movie that names its leader character Joe fucking Braven and then treats the whole thing completely seriously. Braven is the kind of movie that rolls credits at 90 minutes without feeling the need to waste your time.
All hail Braven.
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