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October 19, 2018

Braven (2018) --- “They Threatened To Destroy His World, So He Will Destroy Theirs.”

Plot Summary
Joe Braven is a logging company owner who lives with his family in Canada. Joe's father, Linden, suffering from dementia, mistakes a woman in a bar for his wife, prompting a barroom brawl that lands Linden in the hospital. The family decides to take a break at their secluded log cabin, where they run into trouble from a drug dealer who wants to use Joe's business as a front for his cocaine operation. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Braven (2018) is an action-thriller indie film directed by veteran stuntman Lin Oeding (The Equalizer; Blindspot) and stars Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Jill Wagner, Garret Dillahunt and more. The story follows Joe Braven (Mamoa), a soft-spoken logger who takes his father, Linden (Lang), who suffers from dementia to his cabin for some father-son time to talk. Not long after arriving they encounter a group of dangerous drug runners and from there the film explodes into a conflict between an outdoorsman and a killer with brutal and intense action sequences throughout.
     The film’s story is simple in structure and was written by first-time screenwriters Mike Nilon and Thomas Pa'a Sibbett and it is a bit obvious despite all the amazing action sequences. The first half explains the basics behind each character and then its just straightforward action with beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest. Two aspect that makes this film stand out is the added complication of the father, Linden's fall into dementia and the surprising skills of Stephanie (Jill Wagner), Joe’s wife. Throughout the film we see Linden drift between what he remembers and what he doesn’t, and yet Joe has to rely on his skills with a rifle to help them survive. Then there is the unexpected arrival of Stephanie who proves to be very skilled with a bow. In short, we have an elderly man with dementia and an empowered woman who are both skilled enough to stand alongside the film’s hero in a successful way.. The dialogue left a few things to be desired, primarily with the bad guys, but other than that the story is entertaining, especially for an indie-film but I think part of that has to do with Momoa’s talent as an actor.
     Now there are plenty of action films out there and while most of them offer decently entertaining, few of them present an actor like Mamoa who is just starting to rise to top star fame like Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger.
     Jason Momoa (Frontier; Auquaman) seems to be made for action movies. Although he appeared in TV series like Baywatch (1999 – 2001) and Stargate (2005 - 2009) it was not until 2011 that he caught the eyes of fans around the world for his portrayal of Conan in Conan the Barbarian and Khal Drogo in HBO series Game of Thrones. And recently he has taken on the role of Aquaman in Justice League (2017) and in a solo Aquaman film later this year. It is interesting to see some of his earlier works and watch the journey he has taken towards leading man status. Although Braven is one of his smaller projects Momoa brings everything to the table and I believe it should help tied fans over until December. Stephen Lang (Mortal Engines) could have easily taken the spotlight but instead gave an excellent supporting performance. Garret Dillahunt (The Gifted) is subtle yet brutal as the villain drug lord Kassan. The rest of the cast – Jill Wagner (Teen Wolf), Sasha Rossof, Zahn McClarnon (Westworld), and Brendan Fletcher (The Revenant; iZombie ) – give great performances.

     Overall, Braven (2018) is an entertaining action-thriller despite being indie-film. Although this is writers Mike Nilon and Thomas Pa'a Sibbett first-time screenplay they did surprising well, the dialogue could have been a bit better but the action is brutal and thrilling till the very end. The views of the Pacific Northwest are stunning it the filmmakers really take advantage of the scenery. The cast gives incredible performances throughout, especially Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Jill Wagner, and Garret Dillahunt. If you are a fan of Momoa’s work then I recommend this film and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

- Stephanie

Final Vote
Worth Seeing: 7.8 of 10 star
Worth Buying: 7.8 of 10 stars

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