Four Brothers

When John Singleton tries to be serious, his movies are not that great. 2 Fast 2 Furious and Baby Boy are not great entries on a once great resume. Four Brothers is something completely different. This is a good old fashioned revenge fantasy. It's a guilty pleasure that revels in the fact that its strong point is to entertain, not to present a logical film. Yeah there's a story, but it's transparent enough to figure out what things are going to happen, and what those things are. Four Brothers is also a good vehicle for Mark Wahlberg (I [Heart] Huckabees, The Italian Job). For a while, Wahlberg tried to take on serious leading men roles. He does not have the charisma to come across as credible in these roles. Instead, his acting ability works well in movies like these, that require him to act like a brutish thug.

The four brothers in question are Bobby Mercer (Wahlberg), Angel (Tyrese Gibson, Flight of the Phoenix, 2 Fast 2 Furious), Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin, Be Cool, Hollywood Homicide), and Jack (Garrett Hedlund, Friday Night Lights, Troy). They are the adoptive children of Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan, Tears of the Sun, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), a saintly woman who took these kids in when nobody else would. She died in a liquor store robbery, and the four brothers reunite to try to figure out who killed their mother. Quick-tempered Bobby was in jail. Angel was in the military. Jack is a wannabe rock star. Jeremiah is the only one with a family and steady job.

They do not trust the police. Lt. Green (Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow, Crash), who has bad history with Angel, is in charge of the investigation. The brothers opt for their own tactics, using intimidation and street smarts to tease information out of anybody connected. Of course they get somewhere. And of course David Elliot (The Watcher, Nothing Sacred) and Paul Lovett's script involves government corruption, hired guns, and gangsters. The more the brothers discover, the less safe they are, and the more violent life becomes.

Four Brothers is not the most believable film, but it is fun to watch. Singleton keeps things moving quickly, punctuated with lots of violence - shootouts, car chases, and fights. Because the main characters are all brothers, they act like it. They rib each other endlessly, providing many points of levity. The four leads do have nice chemistry together, but again, most of the film they fight together and insult each other. Whenever it looks like things are getting slow, Singleton kills and/or shoots somebody. It's pretty shallow, but darn it, it's a good ride.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 49 minutes, Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, and some sexual content.

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