About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Home
August 2005

By Wilson Morales

Four Brothers

Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: John Singelton
Producer: Lorenzo Di Bonaventura
Screenwriters: David Elliot & Paul Lovett
Cinematographer: Peter Menzies, Jr.
Composer: David Arnoldf
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Howard, Josh Charles, Sofia Vergara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Fionnula Flanagan, Taraji P. Henson, Barry Shabaka Henley
Screened at: Loews 42nd Street E Walk, NYC


The common theme in Hollywood is that there are only less than ten stories that can be made into films, but that everyone uses at least one story and modifies it so much that you could never connect it to the original story, whatever it may be. If that were the case, I would like to have John Singleton direct every one of them. He knows how to add some flavor to his films that's appealing to anyone who wants some excitement and emotion within the film. Such is the case with his latest film, "Four Brothers". This is basically an old fashion western film from the 70s when revenge was the main theme in those days. Instead of having Clint Eastwood waive his gun with a cowboy hat, Singleton has four men, all different from each other, and the takes the setting in the inner city of Detroit, rather than some town in the outskirts of Mexico. With Mark Wahlberg leading the charge, "Four Brothers" is a high powered entertaining film filled with enough wit and emotion.

Written by David Elliot and Paul Lovett, the film starts off with a bang when an elderly lady, Evelyn Mercer (Flanagan) is shot inside a grocery store by robbers. The funeral brings back the foster boys she raised for years. The Mercer brothers are different from each other as explained by childhood friend now cop, Detective Fowler (Howard). Bobby and Jack are white, while Angel and Jeremiah are black. Bobby Mercer (Wahlberg) is the oldest and the hothead one who always gets in trouble with the law. Angel Mercer (Gibson) is the pretty boy who went to the Marines yet manages to snag an old Latina girlfriend (Vergara), who still pines for him. Jeremiah Mercer (Benjamin) is the one who stayed with Evelyn and paid all the bills when the rest of the brothers left town. Jack Mercer (Hedlund) is the youngest of the brothers who aspires to be a rock star, but had a rough childhood before being taken in by Evelyn. After getting settled in Ma's house and getting reacquainted with their rooms, it's time to find out why their mother was killed and what's taking the police so long to get answers. Bobby has no patience in waiting for the right time to make a move as he interrupts a basketball waiving a gun to get some answers. When evidence points to a local mob thug named Victor Sweet (Ejiofor), the brothers spare no time in flushing him out while at the same time Sweet has his own plan for the brothers.

What makes "Four Brothers" a compelling film is the chemistry the four leads have with each other. With his previous films centering on family relationships, Singleton knows how to make the relationship and emotions between the brothers look genuine. This is a character driven film with a few car chases and gun shots thrown in for action sequences. While Wahlberg and Gibson provide the heart pounding scenes with their performances, it's Chewetel Ejiofor who almost steals the film with his one-note performance as the no-nonsense thug who will embarrass one of his henchmen and his wife to get his point across. Just like the old films of the 70s western films, there are no qualms about killing for revenge, which is rarely seen in films these days. While Gibson and Singleton have worked numerous times together and Gibson having done other films, Benjamin, of the musical group Outkast, is making a fine transition into the acting fields and a role like this will a long way for him. While there are four leads, it's clearly Wahlberg's film. He plays his role with vibrancy and occasional humor, but heartless when he needs to be. After seeing him electrify in "Hustle and Flow", Howard's role seemed subdued, yet he manages to have some scenes that shine. Vergara's role was a bit pointless, and Henson's performance was wasted, but after all, this is a film about the brothers and revenge and the women in the film are merely film props and a distraction. Nevertheless, "Four Brothers" is a pleasurable film filled with humor, explosive scenes, and hilarious moments.