South African mythology hasn’t been explored much yet, so Akin Omotoso’s new supernatural Netflix show The Brave Ones is a great way to learn more about it.
The first episode of the six-episode series was released on September 16, 2022. It stars Sthandile Nkosi, Tony Kgoroge, Nomalanga Nkosi, Bonko Khoza and others in a mix of genres.
The Brave Ones follows the lives of Ntsiki, a young woman struggling, and Ayanda, a desperate mother. The two women live in very different circumstances and situations. Though their lives are different, they have a lot in common, and it all has to do with the supernatural lives of the ancient gods known as the sages and the beings in the title.
When a project has well-developed characters from other worlds, the writer has to build the story around them, which often makes the story better. But when the story is more powerful than the characters in it, sometimes it can overpower them, no matter how strong they are.
The Brave Ones is a good example of this type of storyline. The idea behind the show as a whole is very ambitious. Talking about South African legends is a big step in the right direction when Greek and Norse mythologies are already established as big ideas. But Omotoso’s recent work fails to bring up the spooky heroes in question.
The show could have easily gone darker, which would have made it more interesting, but it’s moving in that direction very slowly. And before we know it, the six-episode miniseries is over.
But that doesn’t mean it has nothing good to offer. Although the series is mostly about supernatural things, it is based on the real world of social class. We see a lot of corruption in the project that Luthando (Tony Kgoroge) is working on, which ties some of the side stories together.
In a way, the supernatural theme is used as a metaphor for the real destruction of a community and their country. The “Tree of Life” is a supernatural being and the idea that their country will be destroyed and they will have to move is connected to it. As distressed modernity is used to hark back to ancient myths and legends, no one knows what to expect, just as the people living in the land of Ilanga do not know what to expect.
People who are being abused need a New Age hero who knows where they’re coming from. This is how Ntsiki’s Brave One is born. Some people might even compare her to the character Eleven from Stranger Things, but she’s more of a goddess than an experiment. But her royal avatar doesn’t really come through, so her character arc isn’t as powerful and interesting.
The show is more about family drama than anything else. Sometimes the smallest and simplest action is enough to make waves, and Ayanda’s family problem adds to the story’s emotional quotient in small ways rather than having the big picture of a goddess in it. So the human factors are a big part of what keeps the show going.
When you watch the show, it might seem like a lot is going to happen in the six episodes of the season, but once you’re done you’ll find that you don’t remember many of the characters. Some episodes have very odd pacing, and the fact that the story doesn’t flow in a straight line doesn’t help. Much of the mythology needs to be explained so we can understand where each character comes from.
But that only happens at the end. Watching the episodes, you can’t help but be interested in what might happen. The idea is great, but it won’t reach its full potential until the characters are well developed. No matter what kind of family moments there are on the show, they all help build the story. But it’s not very good at building characters.
Moments that people have been looking forward to for a long time, like when Ntsiki finally accepts himself as the brave, don’t work out. These kinds of turning points don’t always make for caring about the character. In any show or movie, the main character should be someone the audience wants to win over. While we understand that her tragic past drives her to accept who she really is, we can’t feel how sad that is and want more.
Ntsiki does not suit a character who is meant to be a goddess who has been brought back to life. On the other hand, the costumes for the native people are perfect, but other parts of the film could have been done better, like the action scenes, the introduction to the lore, and the demonstration of how powerful the powers of The Brave Ones are. When it comes to these kinds of shows, audiences want moments that push them to the limit and make them shudder. If the show picks up for a second season, maybe we can see just how big the work really is and how well it fits the theme.
How many films have there been about people who have been hurt by violence but decide to seek revenge? Charles Bronson directed five films titled Death Wish. Death Sentence, starring Kevin Bacon, came out two weeks ago. How should we answer them? Why wasn’t Bronson caught when the number of people he’d killed surpassed 50? But now Jodie Foster has teamed up with a talented co-star and director to make a film that really addresses the issues.
Foster is so good at thrillers because she looks natural, unaffected, scared, brave and like she means business. And Neil Jordan’s The Brave One gives her a strong character to play against. Terrence Howard and Foster are great in scenes that are difficult for actors to play because they both know they know more than they’re telling.
Foster plays Erica, a New York radio talk show host. She will marry a doctor named David (Naveen Andrews). One night she and David are mugged in Central Park, he is killed and she is badly injured. Erica is horrified when she is released from the hospital. Her notion that life in the city would be safe is shattered. One day she buys a gun and practices with it at a shooting range, where you can see her fear turning to anger.
Not long after, she’s at a late-night joint (note: midnight walks in Central Park rank second only to night shops in terms of movie crime rates). A robbery ensues, violence ensues, and she kills a man to save her own life. How does she feel? I’m scared and maybe even sick, but I’m glad she’s alive.
We started with a nice NPR guy whose voice is almost too calm and patient, and now the film is sometimes narrated by a woman who doesn’t sound like she works in the office above the saloon, but she owns a part of it . Erica never thought she was capable of killing, but now she’s addicted to it. She gives herself to criminals as defenseless bait, and then shows them how wrong they were.
All revenge films follow these general rules. And often a police officer is involved in the case who is strangely close to the killer. Vincent Gardenia was that person for Bronson. Aisha Tyler and Bacon. With Foster, Terrence Howard, who plays a detective named Mercer who is responsible for the first heist, talks to Erica. Erica says a lot of people in town seem to want revenge. She says, “Yes, I think we are many.” Us. Strange choice of words. It comes to Mercer.
Now the film is less about what Erica is doing and more about how it makes her feel. And about how she and Mercer are beginning to feel for each other, not in a romantic way (although there’s a hint of that in the air) but as smart, cautious people who are slowly realizing they know things they don’t want to admit they know .
Neil Jordan, who has directed films like The Crying Game, Michael Collins, Breakfast on Pluto, Mona Lisa and The Good Thief, often makes films about characters who are not who they are seem to be and about people not sure if they can be trusted. His characters don’t lie intentionally. Their lives have forced them into their roles and they see no way out. You can often tell they are dying to tell you something.
The Brave One is a great book because it has that kind of psychological tension. The film isn’t full of action scenes, but it’s very interested in what’s going to happen to these two people. The ending of the film smells a bit like it was edited by the studio. I’m not saying Jordan and his writers changed it, but the story should have gone in a different direction. Where did Hollywood get the idea that people want to be let off the hook at the end of a movie? Foster doesn’t let himself off the hook in The Brave One, and we should all be as brave as she is.