JASON Momoa first made waves on TV as Ronon Dex in “Stargate Atlantis” and as Khal Drogo in “Game of Thrones”. He then gained movie stardom as Aquaman in “Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League” before getting his own origin story in “Aquaman” in 2018. He’s also seen in Apple TV’s sci-fi series, “See”, whose second season was affected by the pandemic.
Meantime, you can watch Momoa in the action-thriller, “Braven”, said to have been made before “Aquaman” but only recently released via streaming. He plays Joe Braven, a supervisor in a logging company in Newfoundland. He’s not aware that a driver who transports their logs, Weston (Brendan Fletcher), is being used by drug traffickers to transport cocaine.
While on his way to transport drugs, Weston figures in an accident and his truck malfunctions in the snow covered highway. He and the drug trafficker (Zahn McClarnon) takes the stash of drugs to an isolated cabin in the mountains to keep it there so the cops who are coming to investigate the accident won’t see it.
Meantime, Joe is having problems with his old dad (Stephen Lang), whose mental health is deteriorating after a head injury. Joe’s wife, Stephanie (Jill Wagner), suggests that he take his dad to their cabin so he can tell his dad the seriousness of his health condition that borders on dementia.
Joe is not aware that his little daughter (Sasha Rossof) hid in the back of his car as she wants to join them in the cabin. The drug lord Kassen (Garrett Dillahunt) comes with his heavily armed men to personally retrieve the merchandise, but he sees that Joe has gotten ahead of them in the cabin.
He then orders his men to kill Joe and all his companions. The rest of the movie shows Joe and his family under siege and they try their best to fight back to protect their own lives from the ruthless bad guys.
The location where the movie was shot in the wilds of Newfoundland is so beautiful and its snowy surroundings are perfectly captured by the film’s fine cinematography. The movie does its best to serve its purpose as a showcase for Jason Momoa as an action star.
You can expect a lot of shoot outs plus plenty of chase scenes by foot in the forest surrounding the cabin. Adding to the tension is the presence of an innocent child in the subplot.
Momoa is obviously being positioned as the new Arnold Schwarzenegger. They’re both body builders with bulging muscles and Momoa has even made a reboot of Arnold’s “Conan the Barbarian”.
But times have changed. People no longer flock to action movies like they used to in the times of Arnold and Stallone, unless they’re superhero movies made by Marvel or DC, like the super blockbuster that was ‘The Avengers’.
Even the last action outings of The Rock weren’t as successful as the fantasy-comedies he did, like the “Jumanji” franchise. The last hard action flick we saw was ‘Extraction’ starring Thor, but it was released only via steaming on Netflix.
As for Momoa, he’s not the hardhitting action star we’ve been accustomed to see here in “Braven”. The material is really thin and obviously made on a meager budget. As Braven, he is frequently pummeled and beaten up by his opponents and in the movie’s climax, he does get the main villain using a rusty bear trap, but he himself had to undergo a very painful injury.
The movie has a number of suspenseful scenes but some of its plot ploys can be annoying, like the presence of Momoa’s little daughter who’s obviously added manipulatively for a scenario meant to get our sympathy for a child in danger.
Even the cop who came to help rescue them turns out to be more of a liability than an asset. In this kind of adrenalin-filled action vehicle, we just want the hero to overcome all the odds by himself and take out all the bad guys.
The movie is directed by a stuntman-turned-director Lin Oeding, making his full length film debut with B-movie trappings. Well, sorry but he’s not as inventive and successful as another stuntman-turned-director, Chad Stahelski, who gave Keanu Reeves’ career a much needed boost with his megahit action franchise, “John Wick”.