Jodie Foster's Erica is a radio voice, it's the way she likes it. She is private as a star on the radio and she is in love with David (Naveen Andrews).
Erica is relaxed - she wears sneakers, a loose long shirt with an open sweater and no socks. She's not on TV - we can't see her during her broadcast and no one knows what she looks like. When she enters a romantic walk with David and her dog in Central Park, we know from the film hype, danger is lurking somewhere on this comfortable summer evening.
Terrence Howard's Mercer, a cop who holds cases a little too close is working on the murder of a mom who planed to testify against her husband who now gets custody of the little girl who probably knows what he did.
Director Neil Jordan constantly flashes back to the violent attack which forces us to enter the terror ride Erica constantly relives from the encounter which killed her lover. Jordan also filters in love scenes between David and Erica which draw us away from the tension that forces us to intently watch each scene while we think of what our response to her situation would be. Jordan also uses twisted scenes which depict the essentially bazaar situation Erica finds herself in.
While footsteps frighten her, the bureaucratic police drive her to revenge. With sunglasses and a gun she becomes a vigilante, although her first hit does come simply because she is, again, in the wrong place.
As we might expect the bad guys are completely without redemption, that makes it more comfortable for us to cheer as she revenges the grievances. Like Charles Bronson's Paul Kersey in Death Wish she murders on a train when challenged. But unlike Kersey, Erica is bothered by her actions, they work on her mind constantly. She becomes different wandering the streets at night looking for trouble but never satisfied as Kersey was.
While Detective Vitale (Nicky Katt) slips in remarks that break the tension, Mercer and Erica banter as we watch their psychological tension and unspoken support for each other's mission in the mirror. They are conflicting allies in the battle for the streets. All of the blood letting on the side of the good guys begins to draw the attention and Mary Steenburgen's Carol. Erica's producer begins to play the card when Erica expresses her feelings one night in a moving effective statement to her audience. But the question and answer period folded into the radio show pulls Erica's balance further apart.
With the assistance of haunting background music, the tension on the street and the muted pressure between the two stars, we can't look away, we are compelled to watch every scene and every move.
With two very effective performance and an interesting script, the revenge film takes on a new quality with a stronger feeling of reality, the pain of guilt and the profound dark change that takes place in the characters. At the same time we all cheer when the revenge is complete.