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Overall Rating
3.63

Awesome: 20.93%
Worth A Look48.84%
Average: 6.98%
Pretty Bad: 18.6%
Total Crap: 4.65%

3 reviews, 25 user ratings


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Four Brothers
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Marky Mark as John Wayne? That'll be the day!"
2 stars

“Four Brothers” began life, as I recall, as a contemporary urban remake of the classic John Wayne western “The Sons of Katie Elder.” However, that idea seems to have fallen by the wayside and even though it does share the same basic premise as the earlier film, you will find no mention of it in the credits or press materials for “Four Brothers.” Some may consider this the biggest injustice since Michael Bay lifted huge chunks of “Parts: The Clonus Horror” for “The Island” but I prefer to think of it as a blessing in disguise–if there is any luck in the world, few will link the Wayne film to this lunkheaded exercise in ham-fisted storytelling and it therefore won’t suffer the indignity of being connected to this tripe.

The film opens as a sweet old woman (Fionnula Flanagan) is gunned down during a convenience store robbery and her four foster children–hothead Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), soldier Angel (Tyrese Gibson), community activist Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin) and punker Jack (Garrett Hedlund)–return to the mean streets of Detroit (played here by Toronto) return for the funeral and to try to uncover what happened to her. According to a friendly cop (Terrence Howard), she was just the unlikely victim of a stick-up done by a couple of gang-bangers and there is a witness to prove it. After about six seconds of snooping around, the brothers realize that the witness was lying and that their mother may have been less an innocent bystander and more the central target of a deliberate execution.

With that in mind, the guys do what every band of grieving brothers would do in such a situation–they gather their guns and gasoline and begin to violently torture anyone who might have some information for them until they squeal. It turns out that it all has something to do with local crime kingpin Victor Sweet (Chiwetel Ejiofor), corrupt cops, shady business dealings and other such things. Of course, the screenplay never really tries to tie them together in even a rudimentary manner but director John Singleton seems to be under the impression that such trifling matters can easily be papered over with endless gunfights, car chases and savage beatings. When he absolutely has is back against the wall and is forced to advance the storyline through non-action methods, he generally just has someone–usually the friendly cop–walk on and baldly dole out the kind of exposition that is needed to get to the next story point.

Since “Four Brothers” has clearly been designed as an homage to the classic blaxsploitation films of the 1970's (it even kicks off with Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” on the soundtrack), I suspect that Singleton would argue that such a sloppy attitude towards narrative was deliberate–whatever the virtues of “Shaft” and its brethren, strong screenplays were not among them–but those films at least kept things relatively simple. By comparison, the script for “Four Brothers” is so convoluted that by the time the end credits kicked in, I still didn’t really have a clear idea of why the old woman was targeted for death in the first place. Perhaps Singleton deleted those scenes so he could focus more on the kind of homophobic and misogynistic material that has been a hallmark of his work ever since he burst onto the scene with the wildly overrated “Boyz N the Hood.”

As the film plodded to its thoroughly uninteresting conclusion (in which our heroes get their revenge but manage to do so in a way that prevents them from getting blood on their hands), all I could think of was the number of good actors who go to waste here. Wahlberg is a much better actor than he usually gets credit for (he was excellent in “Three Kings” and “I Heart Huckabees” and has a moment in “Boogie Nights” that is among the best bits of acting that I have ever seen) but he is thoroughly unconvincing here in what is supposed to be the John Wayne part. Andre Benjamin (a.k.a. Andre 3000 from Outkast) has the personality to make it as an actor based on his work here–sadly, what he doesn’t have is the material. The cruelest letdowns comes from Terrence Howard and Taranji P. Henson, who both gave good performances earlier this summer in the Singleton-produced “Hustle & Flow”–here, he rewards them by giving them the kind of flat, one-dimensional roles that they had been stuck with prior to that film.

The only performance that kind of works is the one from Chiwetel Ejiofor as the central bad guy. You may remember him as the hotel clerk caught in the seamy world of organ trafficking in “Dirty Pretty Things” or as the piano player in “Melinda and Melinda.” His work here is notable not because of the character that he plays–the embodiment of evil ruthlessness at its most aggressively bland–but from the way he manages to so completely disappear into the part. He is so effective at transforming himself that I didn’t even realize that it was him until the end credits even though I knew that he was supposed to be in it. Once again, moviegoers are treated to the slightly depressing sight of an actor putting an enormous amount of work and effort into a film that is throughly undeserving of it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12707&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/12/05 14:40:12
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User Comments

11/23/09 Jeff Wilder The performances and Singleton's direction lift it above average. 4 stars
5/27/08 michelle beckman so cheesy, what's up with the ridiculous grandma ghost? 1 stars
3/22/08 AJ Muller Solid, emotional, vengeful story done right. Simply fantastic, great flick. 4 stars
3/14/08 action movie fan solid drama waith good action one of the best of ,05 4 stars
3/04/08 R.W. Welch Didn't expect much, but It's actually a pretty fair revenge flick. B- 4 stars
8/29/07 Renee Really enjoyed this one. Loved the brothers. 5 stars
1/03/07 leetta mcphea Who sings the song at the end when the credits are being ran. It's a rock group 5 stars
5/02/06 tori this movie is really good i watch it all the time. 5 stars
3/02/06 Steven Lewis Story line had holes in it but good action/crime flick. 3 stars
2/21/06 Agent Sands Refreshing to see such a good Hollywood movie in 2005...finally...! 4 stars
2/20/06 Tanya Some parts were unbelievable but a good action flick 4 stars
1/27/06 Indrid Cold Well crafted, but nothing we haven't seen before. 3 stars
1/17/06 Dan Great movie, enjoyed it. 5 stars
1/05/06 Nena Fantastic movie! 5 stars
12/27/05 WISEMAN Best movie of the year! No hollywood in it, the plot is so perfectly planned!! WATCH IT! 5 stars
12/26/05 keria sutton it was the best movie i have seen in a long time i watched it 3 times in one day!!! 5 stars
8/25/05 JoJo what a totally illogical, crass, crash and shoot 'em up pile of crap. 1 stars
8/24/05 Brandy Harrington This movie sucks. 2 stars
8/20/05 malcolm a little contrived, great chase scene, reminded me of 'mystic river' 4 stars
8/19/05 Apples I enjoyed this movie to the fullest. 5 stars
8/17/05 Agent Sands I miss this kind of movie. Especially in shitty ol' Hollywood 2005. 5 stars
8/16/05 jcjs some action but too too trite 3 stars
8/14/05 KingNeutron Good action, good soundtrack. Slightly convoluted plot. 4 stars
8/14/05 nichole great action movie 4 stars
8/14/05 Dixie Theriault Please-totally improbable plot 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  12-Aug-2005 (R)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Nov-2005




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