Lin Oeding’s Braven

Lin Oeding’s Braven is the second film I’ve seen this year that sees an emotionally damaged lumberjack taking revenge on a bunch of assholes who messed with his family, and although it isn’t quite the stab of innovation that Panos Cosmatos’s Mandy is, it takes the old school rough n’ tumble action route and does the genre proud. Jason Mamoa is Joe Braven, a logger and family man living with his family in the gorgeous Canadian wilderness. His dad (the great Stephen Lang) is suffering from the onset of dementia, causing enough stress in the family. Life gets tougher for them when a pack of dangerous, heavily armed drug smugglers arrives at Joe’s remote mountain cabin to retrieve a previously stashed bag of smack, and put his family right in the crosshairs. It’s up to him and pops Lang to use ingenuity, teamwork and a few weapons to take the baddies out and keep his wife and daughter safe. It’s a formula premise given earnest treatment and works well thanks to solid performances and terrific action choreography, there are some deliciously ruthless kills here as well as breathless chase scenes through the wilderness and atop snowy peaks. It’s also nice to see an action hero who bleeds and is very much a vulnerable human being, Joe gets knocked around quite a bit both physically and emotionally, Momoa handles the beats wonderfully. Lang is terrific old grit as always, and Garrett Dillahunt plays a vicious Dilla-cunt as the psychopath leader of the smuggling ring who’s not above capping off his own guys and brutally threatening Joe’s clan. I’m always a sucker for films set in the snow, it somehow just laces the atmosphere and gives it that edge, there is some spectacular Canadian wilderness photography here especially in a moody opening credit sequence showcasing local wildlife and set to the surprisingly mellow, elemental score from Justin Small and Ohad Benchedrit that echoes the melodies of Sigur Ros nicely. This isn’t anything revolutionary or groundbreaking, but within the genre it resides it is top shelf stuff, beautifully made, appropriately rugged and visceral with a steady emotional core and heaps of wintry atmosphere. Loved it.

-Nate Hill

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