Braven has a very simple premise. A logger and his elderly father go to their cabin in the woods for some alone time—and because the logger needs to start talking to his dad after maybe moving into a home—and unbeknownst to them the cabin had drugs stashed in it. Conveniently, the drug runners come back to get the stash at the same time as this trip. The logger then has to protect himself and his father—and his young daughter, who stowed away in the truck—from the drug runners.
The logger is played by Jason Momoa, his forgetful father is played by Stephen Lang, his daughter is played by Sasha Rossof, and there are too many drug runners to mention all of their actors. Garret Dillahunt plays the leader. Braven takes its time to get to this premise—its first 30 minutes are all build, setting the stage for the events to come. Then its final hour is, more or less, exactly what I’ve just said. One man, primarily, against these villains. It’s not the greatest thing out there, but it’s entertaining enough.
Braven comes courtesy of director Lin Oeding, whose primary work comes as a stunt coordinator. As such, you can expect him to nail the action scenes. They’re stripped-down, realistic, and rely a lot on the physicality of the actors rather than effects or technology. Unfortunately, they’re also chopped down to the point that we’re getting two cuts a punch in some instances, which means that whatever choreography they came up with isn’t something we’re going to be able to appreciate. It’s not a martial arts movie, but it’d still look better without as many cuts.
Jason Momoa hasn’t distinguished himself as a particularly deep actor over his career. He’s occasionally charismatic, and he can handle himself in action scenes, but in terms of dramatic depth, he’s lacking. That rings true with Braven, too, where his charisma and physical premise is enough to carry him. He does get to play more of an everyman here, which is nice to see, and his scenes with his child or wife (Jill Wagner) are good, but that’s all charisma.
Meanwhile, he gets to act opposite of Stephen Lang, who has to deal with similar circumstances to Momoa but also has memory issues stemming from a head injury—which makes for a more difficult performance. Lang pulls it off. These are the only two noteworthy performances. The drug runners are all interchangeable dudes and the wife and kid aren’t in the film enough to leave much of an impact; they each get one or two important actions but otherwise are largely absent.
Braven will satisfy action movie fans who want to see a chapter that relies more on the physicality of its actors than technology. It has a simple premise, a slow-burn setup, and then lets it all play out logically. It’s mostly entertaining, its cast is good, and it has a heck of a finale. It doesn’t try to do a lot more than that—there’s not a lot to think about—and its action is a little too choppy to fully appreciate, but it’s a decent watch and better than one might expect going in.
Conclusion: Braven is an entertaining little action movie.
Recommendation: If you like the premise, it might be worth your time to check out Braven.