'Four Brothers' Review **** 083105

The Work = ****
'Four Brothers' viewed just as pure entertainment and/ or emotional reaction would, to me, be more of a glossed over bit of solid action were it not for love. The love of four brothers for their mother is the emotional backbone that elevates 'Four Brothers' above what I suspect many viewers will take it for: a simple revenge flic’. To read farther in this review you must realize I will give away plot points. If you like gritty crime-dramas and think you might like this film, stop reading and go see 'Four Brothers' and give it a try. Here be your spoiler warnings so stop reading if you do not want to know details of the plot.

John Singleton is the director of 'Four Brothers' and so far has been a relatively quite figure in the media. I have to wonder if he had some flashy director name like say, Mc G or if he had made consistently huge budget popcorn flics than maybe he would be a household name. I should stop right here and say that I have nothing against huge big budget audience pleaser flics, I really like 'Bad Boys 2' and 'The Last Boy Scout' is one of my favorite films. That being said, what is interesting about Singleton is the way he goes from a popcorn flic to a seemingly more personal flic. Think about this, the man made 'Rosewood' (tremendously underrated dramatic film,) then the Shaft remake, then the great 'Baby Boy', then the sequel to 'The Fast and the Furious: 2 Fast 2 Furious', and now 'Four Brothers'.

Singleton is a skilled filmmaker and his versatility in the popcorn flics and the personal ones may give him longevity in the often fickle movie industry. Here is a movie that is a crime-drama and that is a remake of a western, (my two favorite genres!!!) The film is based on a John Wayne movie called 'The Sons of Katie Elder' (I haven’t seen it but am going to check it out now after having seen this film.) I have said before, I have nothing against remakes. Much like most categories there are good remakes and there are bad ones. Here is a good one.

The story is simple, an elderly woman named Evelyn Mercer is killed. She is gunned down in a convenience store hold up. Her adopted children return for the funeral and want answers. From even a cursory glance things don’t look right. When seen on the convenience store security camera footage (what are the chances that the tape wouldn’t be booked as evidence, oh, never mind.) Anyway, the shooters are controlled and take the time to execute the woman for little reason.

Singleton is smart in his casting of the brothers. Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson (who Singleton worked with on 'Baby Boy',) Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund portray the Mercer boys and they are all good actors able to bring depth to their characters. Benjamin plays Jeremiah, the one brother that stayed close to his mother in Detroit. The other three all had left their home city but now return and are quickly just a bit at odds with Jeremiah, who is the most successful and easily the most law abiding. Wahlberg plays the oldest and most head strong, Bobby.

Bobby is also the one brother that has drifted farthest into a life of crime. Gibson plays the ladies man, Angel. Hedlund is the youngest and most innocent, Jack. Bobby is more or less the leader but it is clear he would probably kill everyone in town and wind up in prison if without his brothers. The four actors have a real chemistry together and help to make the film very entertaining. Singleton is smart with his supporting cast as well. Terrance Howard, Josh Charles, Sofia Vegara, and Chiwetel Ejiofor are all good actors in their own right and bring spark to their supporting roles. Ejiofor in particular is an interesting choice for the villain Victor, as Ejiofor is probably best known for the sweet and heroic character he portrayed in 'Dirty Pretty Things'.

So, it goes like this, I was an easy sell for 'Four Brothers'. I like westerns and crime-dramas and dig the cast so the movie would have had to have been pretty awful for me to not like it. Some moments worked better than others and I thought some of the concluding sequences I felt could have been ramped up as they didn’t affect me as much as the earlier shootout. I also didn’t care for the trick Angel pulls on Detective Fowler (Charles,) as it seemed a bit too ridiculous.

Still, all told this is an entertaining flic’ with solid performances. The brothers love for their mother and bond with each other is the backbone of this film. If you are a fan of the actors or director Singleton, I say check it out! 'Four Brothers' is reccommended!


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