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Four Brothers - Review

Four Brothers

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THEY say that revenge is a dish best served cold so it’s little wonder to find that Boyz N The Hood director, John Singleton, has chosen to set this vengeance-based thriller on the snowy streets of Detroit.

Sadly, however, the film proves difficult to warm to courtesy of an uneven screenplay that finds the mix of violence, camaraderie and schmaltz a little, well, frosty.

The Four Brothers of the title are played by Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese, Andre Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund. They are, in fact, foster brothers who were jointly raised by an elderly woman when no one else would take them in.

When their mother is shot and killed during an apparently cold-blooded grocery store hold-up, the brothers reunite to get revenge, during which time they get to know each other once again while fending off the unwanted attention of the local police.

What begins as a straight-forward investigation into an armed robbery soon becomes something far bigger, however, as the brothers realise their mother’s killing was merely part of a bigger plan orchestrated by a big league Detroit gangser (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor).

The ensuing tale of brotherly love and retribution is watchable but by no means memorable, rendering it something of a missed opportunity for all concerned.

Singleton has yet to fully realise the potential he showed with Boyz N The Hood and although Four Brothers comes close, it still falls some way short.

The film looks good and makes the most of its harsh Detroit locations (which add to the gritty feel), but it doesn’t hook you as much as it should and pales by comparison to other revenge-based thrillers such as Kill Bill or Man on Fire.

Of the performances, Wahlberg is good, if a little too impetuous, as the hot-blooded member of the clan, while Tyrese and Hedlund are okay with roles that don’t seek to stretch them.

Benjamin, however, does make the most of a slightly more complex character and actually deserves more screen time than he is afforded.

While Ejiofor’s villain is fun to be around, even if he plays it ridiculously OTT and seems to be attempting to outdo Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day for bravado.

The presence of Terrence Howard and Josh Charles as two cops lends even more potential to the dramatic weight of proceedings, which gets squandered amid some fairly cartoonish outbreaks of violence.

Indeed, for a plot as complex as Four Brothers, far too much time is afforded to run-of-the-mill action sequences or sickly sweet flashbacks of the boys with their mother that feel totally out of keeping with the overall tone of the movie.

It means that Singleton’s movie crumbles like the impact of a snowball, rather than thudding home with all the deadly accuracy of a bullet.