out of Five
Running time: 119
Mostly enjoyable thriller with strong performances and a couple of terrific action sequences, though it loses a star for its nose-dive into bad movie territory towards the end.
It’s fair to say that director John Singleton hasn’t really lived up to the promise he showed with his stunning debut, the Oscar nominated Boyz N the Hood
. That said, his previous film, 2 Fast 2 Furious
, proved that he was a dab hand when it came to churning out trashy thrillers and Four Brothers at least has some decent action sequences before it all goes horribly wrong in the final reel.
Billed as an urban western, Four Brothers stars Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund as the Mercer brothers, each of whom was adopted by kindly Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan) when they were young. When Evelyn is gunned down in the upsetting opening sequence, the brothers reunite in Detroit for her funeral and vow to avenge her death.
The cast are extremely good. Wahlberg tends to give his best performances when part of a strong ensemble cast (think Boogie Nights or Three Kings) and he’s on top form here. Andre Benjamin continues to impress after his movie-stealing turn in Be Cool.
For the most part, Four Brothers is extremely enjoyable. There’s a palpable chemistry between the four brothers and their constant bickering and teasing feels so natural that you actually believe they could have grown up together. The twist-laden plot is intriguing too, at least until it nose-dives into stupidity towards the end.
In addition, the film is beautifully shot and Singleton orchestrates two terrific action sequences: a car-chase during a heavy snowstorm and a spectacular neighbourhood shoot-out that’s a shoo-in for Best Action Sequence Of The Year.
It’s a shame that the film opts for such a ridiculous final act. What should have been a tense and thrilling finale ends up being utterly ludicrous, despite the originality of its setting and a certain chutzpah in the final twist. This is largely due to a scene involving Wahlberg, which is guaranteed to provoke unintentional laughter at precisely the wrong moment. The film also becomes unforgivably slushy and sentimental.
That said, if you can forgive the disappointing ending, Four Brothers is, for the most part, an enjoyable thriller that’s worth seeing for the shoot-out sequence alone.