Four Brothers

2005, Movie, R, 0 mins


Director John Singleton blends the conventions of the revenge Western with the style and sounds of '70s blaxploitation into his strongest film since BOYZ N THE HOOD, which also amounts to a close but uncredited remake of the 1965 John Wayne movie THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER. On a cold November night in Detroit's blighted Highland Park, an elderly white woman named Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan) is shot to death in a corner grocery store, apparently the victim of a routine robbery. A local hero in a beleaguered, predominantly black community, Evelyn spent her life placing thousands of kids in foster care and adopting four young men so difficult that she had no choice but to raise them herself. Now grown and grown apart, the Mercer boys — volatile hothead Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), leader of the Mercer pack; handsome Angel (Tyrese Gibson), a tough guy with a tougher girlfriend (Sofia Vergara); married-man Jeremiah (Outkast's Andre Benjamin, kick-starting his acting career), a former Motor City union man trying to make his fortune converting burned-out buildings into desirable real estate; and the youngest, Jack (Garrett Hedlund), an aspiring musician — reunite for their mother's funeral. No sooner does the last shovelful of dirt hit Evelyn's coffin than the boys go gunning for their mother's killers. According to the cops, whom Bobby doesn't trust, witnesses have come forward to say that Evelyn was killed by known gang members who wanted nothing more than what was in the register; she just wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time. But after Bobby douses one of them with gasoline and lights a match, he hears quite a different story: There were no witnesses that night, and the police are lying. The question is, who would want to kill Evelyn? If you don't pay close attention, you're liable to miss the answer; Singleton isn't especially interested in the mystery itself, and it shows. What he is concerned with is the relationship between the four brothers, and the chemistry between Wahlberg, Gibson, Hedlund and Benjamin makes this fast, funny and pretty violent film more than just a Western rip-off. Wahlberg, whose Bobby is the kind of guy who enters a room gun first, swinging a can of a gasoline, is the glue that holds everything together; he's perfectly cast and has never given a more persuasive performance. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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