With its weak story, superficial characters and mediocre climax, the so-called thriller is a dull watch.
Last Updated: 01.00 PM, Jan 13, 2022
Grace Miller (Alyssa Milano) is a best-selling crime novelist whose stories revolve around crimes against women. When she visits her younger sister Kathleen after almost five years, she finds herself caught in a situation not unlike her novels when Kathleen is found murdered. Grace discovers that her sister had a secret profession as an online dominatrix and involves herself in the investigations despite protests from her sister’s neighbour, a homicide detective. As the investigation progresses, another dominatrix turns up dead, pointing to the work of a serial killer.
Whodunnits are a popular genre for viewing and understandably so with the immense amount of potential they offer for an entertaining watch. Brazen, however, does a poor job of utilising this potential, even with the star power of Milano on board. With its storyline swivelling on a vengeful crime writer suddenly thrown into an all too familiar premise of murder, the only difference this time being that it is real and personal, Brazen certainly had a lot of potential. But what starts as a story full of promise quickly turns into a tedious and dull thriller rife with moments that could have been intriguing, but unfortunately, fall flat.
The film, based on Nora Roberts’ novel Brazen Virtue, starts off interestingly enough. Its first act is possibly the only engaging part about it. Grace’s horrifying discovery of her seemingly virtuous sister’s scandalous side job, the gruesome murder and the revelation that a serial killer has surfaced segues into a haphazard story coming loose at every end. But the film forces the story into something with the semblance of a mystery story, although one along very formulaic and rushed lines.
There are very few scenes in the film which seem to be carried out organically, owing in part to the surface-level characters who seem to be abysmally one-dimensional even for a crime thriller. And Grace seems to take the cake when it comes to unrealistic heroines. Despite having no formal training as an investigator, she displays a knack for uncovering things which even seasoned investigators cannot, and crucial information seems to fall onto her lap as she carries out her informal investigations. She starts running circles around the detectives with her implausibly astute observations that even the police captain takes her own as a consultant.
Even Grace’s romance with the detective who is in charge of solving the murder seems to be out of place, although the film had already sowed the seeds of it at the beginning. It doesn't help but to notice that the two seem to have absolutely zero chemistry.
The supporting characters too are nothing that you would not find in any run-of-the-mill thriller, including the vengeful protagonist; the arrogant and detestable ex-husband; the calm and rational detective and a few other odd characters, just peculiar enough to be suspects.
And of course, a dragging story culminates in a mediocre climax, complete with a final showdown between heroine and villain, where the latter predictably launches into a monologue that ends up becoming his undoing. The lacklustre and incredibly textbook reason for why the killer launched on the murder spree is more laughable than sinister.
The film starts off with an interesting premise that quickly descends into a monotonous crime story with no real substance. The only saving grace is its general whodunnit nature and the grand reveal of who is behind the crime.
Brazen is available to stream on Netflix.