“Braven” is a solid, fast-paced action-thriller starring Jason Momoa (better known as Aquaman) as Joe Braven, a caring, capable logger forced to fight for his and his family’s lives. Joe has movie-franchise Everyman written all over him — and we could do worse (though the name’s a bit much).
When Joe takes his aging father (Stephen Lang) to the family’s hinterland cabin to discuss dad’s future medical care, Joe discovers a cache of drugs has been hidden on the snow-filled property and that a ruthless dope smuggler (Garret Dillahunt) and his henchmen will stop at nothing to retrieve it.
A brutal game of cat-and-mouse ensues as Joe must protect his ailing pop, who can still handle a firearm, and later his young daughter (Sasha Rossof) and wife (Jill Wagner), from what’s essentially a home — and land — invasion. Joe battles his foes in a host of bold, quick-witted ways, as handy with his fists as he is with an ax, fireplace tongs or a bow and arrow.
Director Lin Oeding’s stunt background serves him well; the stripped-down action, fights and stunt work here feel like the real deal instead of effects-heavy marvels of editing.
But it’s Momoa’s show and he brings strength, warmth and gravitas to a part that, thanks to an emotionally-grounded script by Thomas Pa’a Sibbett, based on Mike Nilon’s story), proves more than just “Conan, the Lumberjack.”
Rating: R, for violence and for language throughout including some sexual references
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: AMC Sunset 5, West Hollywood