Rated: R for strong sexual content, nudity, graphic language, graphic violence, and disturbing images.
Genre: Action Crime Gangster Adventure Thriller
Directed By: John Singleton
Running Time: 1:49
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 1/10/06
DVD Features:
  • Commentary by: Director John Singleton (Unknown Format)
  • 9 Deleted scenes
  • Commentary by Director John Singleton
  • 5 Behind the Scenes and Making Of Featurettes
  • Theatrical trailer


    It's a sort of pre-cognitive gift sensible movie-goers are given that within the first ten minutes, or sometimes even the first five of a film, they can tell when a movie will be really good, or really bad. With "Four Brothers" I was expecting basically nothing, I mean it's a remake, a remake of a sprawling and exciting John Wayne film called "The Sons of Katie Elder", and it's a modernized remake with only its concept and plot extremely similar. However, I'm sensible enough to admit when I'm basically wrong, and with "Four Brothers" I was surprised to discover I was wrong about it. Like a cowboy on horseback, Wahlberg's character Bobby makes his entrance in to the inner-city of Detroit with old school soul playing in the background. Wahlberg whom I usually find wooden becomes the basic drive here--and shockingly a scene stealer--the replacement for John Wayne who enters back in to his stomping grounds from a life of business to mourn the loss of his foster mother (Fionnula Flanagan, who gives a touching performance as the saintly Evelyn, who helps wayward orphans) who was killed viciously in a store robbery.

    He and his three brothers, all adopted, struggle to come to grips with her death, and re-connect after being apart for so long. But after impatience settles they decide to look for who killed her, and get more than they bargained for. John Singleton's skills adds an extra dose of flair to the production with some utterly engrossing directing that help increase the mounting tension of the story. "Four Brothers" is an unabashed action film that Singleton knows how to compose in to a very stylish story, and it also touches upon genuine emotions with scenes that really do hit home. The four actors really do become convincing as brothers bickering, teasing each other and occasionally rough housing, while you can sense the void with the death their mom. In one very well conducted scene, the guys attempt to have Thanksgiving dinner gazing over at their mother's empty seat and we get some great exposition through vivid imaginings from each of them, that harken to their childhood as she consults each of them. It's a very well done, and heartbreaking scene that Singleton handles well and we get to know about these men without it ever feeling forced.

    "Four Brothers" succeeds in touching upon genuine emotion of love and really do convey how genuine this woman was to these four boys who found salvation in her kindness. "Four Brothers" is a worthy successor to the original film, and with a dose of cheese every so often it really accomplishes the slight camp from the original film. What made this a more  enjoyable experience is that Singleton and the writers turn this from an actioner about vengeance, to a modern western, and gladly, this is a modern western in every sense of the word with some great elements from the genre, and some of Singleton's style thrown in for good measure. The character Jack rolls his own cigarettes, the brothers meet in their own
    saloon, there are shady characters every which way, there is an exciting Peckingpah shoot out in the climax, there's a disciplined sheriff tracking the brothers (Terrence Howard), and there's even a high speed chase reminiscent of chases on horseback.

    But the power of "Four Brothers" is the rousing performances from the whole cast. Mark Wahlberg is engrossing as the hotheaded Bobby, Andre Benjamin pulls in a surprisingly good performance as the oldest brother who has sought to make a good life, Tyrese Gibson is great as the smooth Angel, and Garrett Hedlund picks up for Michael Anderson Jr. as the constantly teased youngest who follows Bobby around and mimics his own actions. I found it really hard to dislike this movie because it can be mother fucking cool when it wants to, and the actors make these characters very likable in spite of the fact that they're anything but. They're often not afraid to kill, and take extreme risks that constantly put them in harm's way, but what would a Western be without a dangerous mission? And an evil villain? Played by Chiwetel Ejiofor who is threatening as the evil Victor (I last saw him as the utterly vicious Operative in "Serenity") and he really pulls in a good performance here. In its core, "Four Brothers" is not ashamed to admit its escapist action with giant lapses in logic, and never ashamed to be funny, but in the process really pulls off a good story, genuine emotion, and involving characters when it wants to. Singleton is back in rare form with a very good remake with the style of modern films and the atmosphere of Westerns. I was pulled in from the very beginning, and I was satisfied in spite of its flaws.

    "Four Brothers" may be a very good action film, but it's anything but perfect. While the first half is basically what I wanted to see, the second half really does get bogged down in utterly meandering sub-plots that I really couldn't stand. Particularly, the sub-plot with Sofie which manages to really bog down the story. Sofia Vergara is irritating and
    infuriating as Angel's girlfriend who he bickers with and at times destroys their mission and what they're trying to do. I never found a single use for her being in the film other than as the obligatory love interest who served no true purpose. She becomes a really bad plot device, and never clicked with me. "Four Brothers" also becomes very meandering with constant focus shifts to other plots, and the villain who is never focused on enough to become a worthy threat to the brothers. And then there's the cheesy and utterly anti-climactic ending which attempts to desperately mimic the exciting climax of "Lethal Weapon", but its composed so poorly, its never exciting, comes off as pretty damn stupid, and really fails to give us the pay off to the build-up from the opening.

    Though cheesy, occasionally corny, and a climax that was very disappointing, "Four Brothers" is a very exciting and entertaining remake with all the style and nuance that a modern western should have. With good performances, action, and genuine characterization, it's a surprisingly good returning opus for Singleton.



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