Four Brothers

Movie Review by Toby White

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund
Director: John Singleton

I’ve always liked Mark Wahlberg. Ever since that scene in BOOGIE NIGHTS where he’s in Alfred Molina’s house and the Chinese kid is chucking fire crackers around and PT Anderson holds that close up on him for an age. He’s just got a way about him. And I’ve always admired John Singleton. Since I first saw BOYZ N THE HOOD, from that opening sequence where a young Tre is walking home from school and those three guys playing craps just start laying into each other. A brilliant debut and a stunning film. So the fact that FOUR BROTHERS isn’t really a great film doesn’t bother me.

Following her seemingly random murder, the four “brothers” in question (Wahlberg, Benjamin, Gibson and Hedlund) come back to their Detroit neighbourhood for their adoptive mother’s funeral. But, when they agree to seek out her killer, they discover a trail of people and events that not only lead to a vicious gang boss but threatens their own fraternal integrity.

Singleton brands it a revisionist Western; a modern take on vengeance and justice, street-style. And it certainly has that feel to it but, to be honest, its plot layers up like an 80s cop drama, predictable and a bit trite in places, but it’s enjoyable nevertheless. Largely because its component parts are all splendid in their own right; solid turns from its four leads, a smattering of exciting set pieces, snappy dialogue and one-liners, a fantastic retro soundtrack and Singleton’s seamless, fluid visual direction. Capping all of these though is the stunning Chiwetel Ejiofor as gang boss Victor Sweet. You’d never believe he’s the man from DIRTY PRETTY THINGS and the forthcoming KINKY BOOTS. An extraordinary, effortless-looking performance.

So what is it that makes it seem so pedestrian? Hard to say, really. Maybe it is that all parties concerned, all certainly talented, simply turned in an ‘effortless’ performance. But if their basic efforts still turn out a movie that’s watchable and enjoyable then I’d love to see what they could do if they pushed the boat out.

4 out of 6 stars