When 62 year old Evelyn Mercer (Fionulla Flanagan) is shot dead during a store robbery in suburban Detroit, her four adopted sons come home for her funeral. Impetuous Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), hard-edged Angel (Tyrese Gibson), family man and businessman Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin), and young Jack (Garrett Hedlund) are devoted sons who know she saved them from a dead end life. They get an inkling that her death was not what it seems, and set about tracking down those responsible, without consulting Lt Green (Terrence Howard) of the local police, or his sidekick Fowler (Josh Charles). All the clues lead to local crime boss Victor Sweet (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has his tentacles into every aspect of local activity, cops included. But the four brothers are too angry to be scared - until Sweet brings in his goons with guns.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's down to action business for John Singleton in this suburban crime tragedy, delivering maximum grunt with an emotional payload certain to carry the film deeper into our hearts than any gang war might. Mum is the key, a dear, white haired white lady who is a legend in her predominantly black neighbourhood, noted for taking in the flotsam of kids who have been abandoned, orphaned or lost by family and society.
Four of them she could never pass on to foster homes, such was their determination to be wicked. But now as adults, they dote on her and remember her as their saviour. The mawkishness is held at bay just enough to lend a sense of gravitas to the violent scenario as the four brothers get together to avenge her shooting.
From this simple premise and straight forward characters, Singleton builds an effective crime thriller, ensuring we associate with the right sort of crim for his purposes. The good crims (mainly the four brothers but not only) are as ethnically split as the bad crims, so the film can work both commercially and socio-politically. All the same, the atmos and tone is backstreet black, and the film is none the worse for that.
Tight and resolutely genre specific, Four Brothers delivers what as a Hollywood product it promises and holds our attention with its classy craftsmanship.
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FOUR BROTHERS (M)
CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garret Hedlund, Terrence Howard, Josh Charles, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sofia Vergara, Fionulla Flanagan
PRODUCER: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
DIRECTOR: John Singleton
SCRIPT: David Elliot, Paul Lovett
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Menzie jr
EDITOR: Bruce Cannon, Billy Fox
MUSIC: David Arnold (and Ed Shearmur)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Keith Brian Burns
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 10, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
VIDEO RELEASE: March 2, 2006
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.