Review: “The Brave”
By Godfrey Cheshire
That the story, scripted by Depp, his brother D.P. Depp and Paul McCudden from Gregory McDonald’s novel, supposedly takes place among Native Americans must be counted as pic’s first problem. There’s no specificity or authenticity to the characters; they’re simply generic modern Indians, which understandably could be taken as exploitative or insulting.
In this regard, Depp simply combines age-old Hollywood bad faith toward native peoples with the worst tendencies of two of his obvious mentors, Jim Jarmusch and Emir Kusturica, who often mask cultural condescension with arty pretension.
Similarly vague, tale’s setting is Morgantown, location unknown, a desert outpost perched on the edge of a huge garbage dump. With a wife and two kids, loser Raphael (Depp) is looking for a way out when a trip to town leads him to Larry (Marshall Bell), apparently a businessman. Promising work, Larry sends him to a mysterious figure named McCarthy (Marlon Brando), who meets Raphael in a dark warehouse and offers him a terrible bargain: $50,000 for his agreement to be murdered a week hence.
Equal Status, Kemo Sabe
Johnny Depp Revises Tonto in ‘The Lone Ranger’
By Chris Wallace
The movie isn’t terrible, exactly—it’s not good—but it does raise the question: Why? Why spend the celebrity capital (not to mention the financial kind) he had so carefully, if eccentrically, amassed to make it? To get anything done in Hollywood, even if you are Johnny Depp, takes years of often heartbreaking obsession, not to mention millions of dollars. So for him to step behind the camera to make “The Brave,” bringing a historically underrepresented perspective to the screen, suggests he thought it was worth the trouble.
Beneath the howling Neil Young score and the deadpan comedy, “Dead Man,” is, like “The Brave,” inflected with deep sensitivity to, if not reverence for, native American (and Native American) culture. But, unlike “The Brave,” “Dead Man” is a great film—possibly both Mr. Depp’s and Mr. Jarmusch’s best—the most significant entry in Depp’s catalog of Native Americanalia until “The Lone Ranger” rides into theaters on Wednesday.
With his superficial and generic understanding of Indians, it seems Depp isn't qualified to make movies about them. Not if he has creative control, anyway. The Lone Ranger proves the point.
For more on Johnny Depp and Tonto, see Skyhawk: Depp Dishonored Indians and Shawnee Professor Justifies Tonto's Stereotypes.