2 September 2005 | dee.reid
Four times the mayhem in "Four Brothers"
I have to admit "Four Brothers" is not a movie I was giddy about seeing. I didn't have really high expectations and why should I, much less you? Well, if you do have high expectations, you better lower them, because "Four Brothers" is not a deep and involving picture but is really more of a straight-forward action flick with a few sly one-liners thrown in for good measure.
There's not a single wince of brain activity throughout it, though the four "brothers" of the title (Mark Wahlberg, Andre Benjamin, Tyrese Gibson, Garrett Hedlund), explained by one character as being "total f**k-ups," do express a convincing degree of unity in that you actually believe they're related through their deceased, adopted mother Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan).
Wahlberg is Bobby Mercer, the courageous tough-talking eldest brother and the one with a chip on his shoulder. Not surprisingly, he does the most talking and is the obvious leader. Benjamin is Jeremiah Mercer, the only one of the four to really make something of himself in that he has a legitimate business, a wife (Taraji P. Henson) and children, and the closest ties to their mother. Gibson is Angel Mercer, a (former) soldier of fortune who has the ladies (including feisty Latina Sofia Vergara), the bragging rights, and the connections. Lastly, Hedlund is Jack Mercer, the youngest and grungiest of the four who's also a wannabe rocker and had the most troublesome childhood of them all.
The four are reunited at the funeral of their dear mom, who was viciously slain in a liquor store robbery. The brothers suspect that because of the particularly heinous nature of the crime, their mother may not have been some innocent bystander but was really executed, and the robbery itself was just there to throw off the cops.
After much contemplation and not even bothering to heed the warnings of two flaky detectives (played by Terrence Howard and Josh Charles), the four go after their mom's killer. It shouldn't be any surprise that they find their mother had been inadvertently drawn into the middle of some big insurance scheme or something along those lines (it's not really all that well explained), so the brothers look to settle the score with anyone - everyone.
As directed by John Singleton (whose outstanding landmark 1991 debut "Boyz N the Hood" remains the pinnacle of his career), "Four Brothers" is loud, dumb, and violent. The plot does a little more than resemble "The Sons of Katie Elder" (1965), which I haven't seen, but I doubt it was as lacking in intelligence as "Four Brothers."
However, the movie should be praised because it is strangely appealing (the totally PC leads notwithstanding), and the action is fast and furious, culminating in an impossible car chase through the ice-slicked Detroit streets during a snowstorm. And Singleton shows he hasn't completely lost my respect in that he's a good director during these scenes and succeeds in creating a believable atmosphere of unity amongst the four brothers.
I expect this movie to be a success, since it's the last week of the summer and the August season of blockbusters has passed. But hey, it's the last week of the summer, "Four Brothers" is playing, and so don't everybody rush to the theaters. OK?