Jason Momoa has been making quite the name for himself in the world of action and adventure. From watching him play Khal Drogo in “Game of Thrones,” to Aquaman in “Justice League," I knew it was only a matter of time before he would feature in his very own action thriller.
Alas, first time director and former stunt coordinator, Lin Oeding brings us “Braven." The story revolves around a muscle-bound, tattooed, rough around the edges, family man, logger named Joe Braven. Joe has a beautiful wife, Stephanie, an adorable daughter, Charlotte, and a lovable father, Linden, who is flirting with dementia.
Linden has a nasty habit of wondering into local bars late at night and mistaking women for his late wife. Of course, in typical Hollywood fashion, this opens up the opportunity for a good old bar fight which you better believe displayed Joe Braven’s tough guy side.
Stephanie and Joe decide that maybe it is time they explore some alternative care options for trouble making but lovable Linden. They decide that Joe will bring him to their secluded family cabin to break the news while spending quality father-son time together.
In the meantime, Joe’s co-worker Weston is trying to make an extra buck by smuggling drugs on one of his log deliveries. However, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and the truck tips over in a storm. In a best ditch effort to keep the drug trafficking on track, Weston and his token bad guy accomplice hide the drugs in–you guessed it–the Braven Cabin.
We are then introduced to the ominous drug kingpin, Kassen, played by Garret Dillahunt. Kassen is smoking a cigarette in a small, run down diner against the wishes of his waitress, who seems to be quite the bad boy. However, shortly after disobeying the no smoking policy, he ruthlessly murders the petrified drug runner who had seemingly messed up a trip. Not good news for Weston or his accomplice, and now this is where the fun begins.
Kassen and his henchmen make the trip up to the cabin to retrieve the drugs only to find that Joe and Linden had already found them. Just to raise the stakes a bit higher, sweet little Charlotte had hid in Joe’s truck and is now caught in the crossfire.
The remainder of the movie displayed what Momoa and Oeding do best: fight scenes. From this point forward there was minimal dialog but maximal bloodshed. To make up for the lack of substance, there was a broad and creative display of how Joe can kill a man, including but not limited to a wooden crossbow, fire, hot tongs, a few well-placed rocks and a bear trap.
We get the idea that Braven will kill to protect his family, and Kassen will do anything for a good fight, or drugs, but we don’t get much more. In a very anticlimactic fashion, Stephanie comes to the rescue of her family with a high tech crossbow that does about as much damage as a throwing dart from the previously mentioned bar fight.
“Braven” didn’t quite nail what it was going for. The lack of character development, backstory and quite frankly, emotion was made up for with some pretty high stakes action, which kept the viewer from getting too bored of the overarching story.
If you want something to really sink your teeth into, I recommend going somewhere else. Although, if you want to see a blue-collar family man spit some fire and take down a drug lord with his henchmen army and hunting rifle and crossbow, you’ll get what you came for.