2005 - R - 112 Mins.
|Director: John Singleton
|Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
|Written By: David Elliot and Paul Lovett
|Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund and Terrence Howard
|Review by: Bill King
|Official Site: www.fourbrothersmovie.com/home.html
'Four Brothers' is a compelling whodunit set against the mean backdrop of Detroit. For John Singleton, it's another foray into his familiar setting of struggling youths within an urban environment, but this time he benefits from a loaded script by David Elliot and Paul Lovett. It's a chance to redeem himself for '2 Fast 2 Furious' by re-establishing himself as a gifted storyteller who can create characters motivated by knee-jerk emotions rather than cool heads.
Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
The four brothers are Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), Angel (Tyrese Gibson), Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin) and Jack Mercer (Garrett Hedlund). They were all adopted by the kindly Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan), a social worker who helped abandoned children find families. These four were the worst of the worst, but under Evelyn's stern hand, they grew out of that phase to become productive adults. They return to Detroit upon hearing of Evelyn's murder.
Dissatisfied with the police investigation, and under the impression that the robbery/homicide is only part of the mystery, the boys set out to do their own detective work, which opens the door for more dead bodies and unanswered questions. Additional characters step in to complicate matters, leading to the unsettling conclusion that one of the brothers might have had some trouble with local gangster Victor Sweet (Chiwetel Ejiofor).
Still more guilty faces turn up, giving 'Four Brothers' a convoluted plot with too many branches sticking out, each with new information to develop (or compound) the mystery even further. That is perhaps the movie's one fault, though it can also be a plus. Rather than show warring sides shooting at each other nonstop, the story requires us to invest some time to sort through the mess, meaning that someone with no attention span will walk out at the end completely lost. There is considerable material here, but the patchwork presentation comes together in a satisfying way.
For anyone looking for action, this movie delivers in-your-face mayhem to go with the perplexing aspects. A shoot-out between the Mercers and Victor Sweet's goons highlights the piece, but smaller entanglements deliver a gut punch with their chaotic unraveling. A chase scene through snowy streets is good for some thrills, and a painful confrontation with a witness shows just how determined the brothers are to discover the truth.
'Four Brothers' has intensity brimming at the surface, but it finds time to be funny and perplexing all at once. Singleton is at his best with this kind of movie, one that features deeply flawed characters trying to make it in this crazy world. The brothers are not too far removed from the street violence that produced them, but through a motherly touch they acquired a desire to move beyond that -- but ready to return to if provoked by the wrong crowd.