Four Brothers

A saintly old white lady gets killed during a liquor store robbery in Detroit. She has four adopted sons that return to town for her funeral – Mark Wahlberg from Boogie Nights, Andre Benjamin from Be Cool, Tyrese from Baby Boy, and… some kid in a leather jacket. See, this dead lady was some kind of pillar of the community, bein a grandma to all the disadvantaged kids in the neighborhood, bringing people free turkeys on thanksgiving, teaching important moral lessons and what not. But these four kids, these were the worst motherfuckers anybody ever saw… out of all the kids she helped, these were the only little shits she couldn’t get anybody to adopt, because they were too bad. The dirty dozen of juvenile delinquents. Except there’s only four of them, I think I mentioned that already but I don’t want anybody to get confused. The dirty four brothers.

So now Motown’s Most Infamous are back in the neighborhood like blaxploitation stars, and somebody out there killed their mom, and they aren’t quite as forgiving as she is so holy shit is somebody gonna have all hell brought down on them, in my opinion.

Four BrothersIf that isn’t a good hook, I don’t know what is, but unfortunately Mr. John Singleton doesn’t really hang too much meat on it. This isn’t a bad movie, it’s a mediocre one, which is probaly worse. The cast is good, there’s some good moments, I like the basic outline, but it just doesn’t fly.

One big mistake, they didn’t do enough with the problem child angle. We hear alot about how these were the baddest kids on the block, but we pretty much have to take their word for it. Wahlberg is pretty mean and grizzled, has apparently lived a life of crime, etc. He passes the test. Tyrese has muscles, but he’s mostly a fuckup like he gets into trouble screwin somebody else’s girlfriend and that kind of garbage. Not one of the top four worst kids in Detroit. Benjamin isn’t a bad guy at all, he’s a family man with a conscience, and even Terence Howard, the cop who explains to us the premise of the 4 brothers at the beginning, admits he’s an okay guy. And then the kid in the leather jacket, they just tell us that something bad happened to him when he was little, and the brothers pick on him and call him a fag all the time. So he’s a bad motherfucker, I guess.

Don’t get me wrong, they got the brothers shooting some guns and occasionally they do something crazy like pour gasoline on somebody. But I wish there was more of this. I wish we believed these guys were born out of satan’s ass. People should run and hide when they come down the block. They should be the devil’s rejects with heart.

I mean this is the guy who remade SHAFT so I think it was fair to hope for an updated blaxploitation style revenge movie. And that might’ve been sort of what he was going for because the soundtrack pillages half of Marvin Gaye’s classic Trouble Man soundtrack (and various other Motown tunes, since it’s Detroit). These are good songs but I wish somebody would come out with a new classic blaxploitation score. David Holmes is the only guy who ever even gives it a shot. It’s not like you can’t have funky horn sections anymore. They still exist. Let’s get to it boys. Some fresh new badass music would have gone a long way toward making this fucker pop.

One part in the movie that made me laugh, they chase a guy into his apartment and for some reason he has a bunch of rope in there that he uses to climb out the window. What’s this guy really into sailboats or something? I didn’t get why he had so much rope.

I don’t want to give away the big revelation at the end about why they killed the old lady. Luckily, I didn’t really understand why they killed her so there is no danger of slipping and giving it away. If John Singleton or somebody will explain it to me, I promise I will not give it away in this review.

I guess the best thing you can say about the movie is that the cast works well together. I like the chemistry between these guys, always sniping at each other and getting in wrestling matches in the living room, but also having that macho brotherhood bond. It probaly coulda worked with a little more elbow grease in that script.

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 21st, 2005 at 3:30 pm and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Four Brothers”

  1. I’m watching this on TNT right now. I like some things about it, such as Chiwetel Ejiofor as the main heavy, and I like the wintery vibe. There’s a car chase in a snowstorm, at night, and I’m almost positive that the snow was real. I thought that was a cool thing I haven’t really seen before.

    Despite all that, there’s definitely the feeling of wasted potential here. Like you say, the cast chemistry is there but the script isn’t really. I think it could’ve been a badass classic if it came together better.

  2. Maybe it’s just nostalgia for when a real movie, expected to be seen by normal people en masse, was R-rated, filled with foul language (including racial slurs!), had plenty of squibs going off, attractive women in lingerie, torture, coldblooded murder, casually corrupt police, good guys being killed and staying dead… but this one’s underrated. It’s down-to-earth enough that the main conflict is over avenging an old woman, and not even with some side benefit like stopping a low-income housing development from being bulldozed. Yet it’s also stylish enough to feature people wielding guns akimbo during a shootout, the hero and villain duking it out bare-handed instead of one simply shooting the other in the head, badass entrances, badass one-liners, et al et al. And in the dark ages between 2 Fast 2 Furious and Fast Five, it features Tyrese as one of a multiracial family-by-choice who are always going on about brotherhood. It’s like the Machete to F&F’s Spy Kids, showing what Roman’s doing when Vin Diesel is sleeping or whatever!

    Also, I know this one isn’t really so old that you can really say it features ‘a young Terence Howard’ or anything, but still, it does boast a murderer’s row of talent that went on to bigger and better things. And Andre 3000!

  3. I should rewatch that one. I was disappointed at the time based on what I thought it should be – I’m sure I could let some of that go watching it now.

  4. I also haven’t seen it since 2005 but I recall Chiwetel Ejiofor made a good villain.

  5. I remember the absolutely Branaughian meal he made of his “American” accent being one of the only distinctive aspects of the movie. The whole thing felt synthetic, like it was written and directed by an AI. (Sadly, this is the impression I got from all of the late John Singleton’s for-hire work.) Compared to today’s assembly line of vaguely movie-like visual entertainment product, though, it probably feels refreshingly real movie-ish.

    I call this Puff Daddy Syndrome: when something you thought was the worst things could get ends up looking pretty good in retrospect compared to what came after.

  6. Been a minute, but I enjoyed this one. The four-brothers-ly camraderie and chemistry among the leads did it for me, and I prefer realpolitik thug/asshole Wahlberg to most other variants (hence, this, FEAR, and OTHER GUYS are my favorite performances of his, whereas I find most of his work bland and skippable).

  7. Hey I remember liking this, but strangely the one scene that seems to stick in my mind is a conversation between 3 of the bros, in the bathroom, one by the doorway, one stepping out of the shower and Wahlberg on the throne taking a shit, and it ends with Marky Mark saying…wait, wait, I’m coming with you! I’m wiping my ass and I’m coming with you.

    Jesus…the shit I remember….

  8. I feel a little bad about my drive-by impugning of modern cinema. In all honesty, my heart wasn’t really in it. The night before, I watched three recent movies and all of them were well made and enjoyable and better than FOUR BROTHERS. Granted, two of them were by old masters and the only one by a young buck was by far the worst of the bunch but POSITIVE MAJESTYK WE’RE BEING POSITIVE KEEP IT TOGETHER MAN GOOD GOD

  9. Eight entries in and no one has mentioned that this is a remake of THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER, with John Wayne and Dean Martin among others…

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>