I watched Four Brothers because I’m a nice guy. For a movie I had completely forgotten about the moment after it’s release it had gained quite the following among my coworkers. “You haven’t seen Four Brothers?”, they would shout, eyes wild and bright, “That movie is awesome!” I was still haunted by the terrible trailer that ran before every movie during the summer of ’05. Mark Wahlberg interrupting a basketball game, the dumb idea of a grandma mixed up in organized crime. Shit looked like a farce. Also, Garrett Hedlund. A coworker lent me his copy, which was sadly in Full Screen but of course it was. I sat down the other evening to watch Mark Wahlberg and company literally fill my screen with their vengeance. (Massive spoilers ahead for a six year old movie where a group of foster children brutally intimidate and murder people to avenge the assassination of their saintly mother)
Four Brothers isn’t actually all that bad. It can be extremely hokey at times but it is sincere. It exists in a world of little police presence where Mark Wahlberg can brandish a gun at an entire high school gymnasium and not face a single moment of jail time. It’s a movie where the heroes murder the villains execution style. It’s the kind of movie where Mark Wahlberg will repeatedly tease and harass Tyrese about Tyrese’s penchant for having a lot of sex with an attractive woman. I interpreted Wahlberg’s character as either shy around women or more than likely a closeted homosexual. His character is quick with a lie and a punch. Perhaps this will be addressed in the actually might happen sequel, Five Brothers. Hopefully the new brother will be Wahlberg’s lover.(Fingers crossed!)
Four Brothers has a few action sequences that are ok. One involves a shootout at a house where the villains realize that bullets CAN break through brick, but these villains are no good at finding cover and anyone can basically shoot them in the open. This sequence features the hilarious death of Garrett Hedlund’s character, who can be seen actually crunching the blood capsule in his mouth. The remaining three brothers don’t spend any time mourning this character’s death and move on with the plot. A car chase earlier in the film is mainly cars sliding around on the road until one of them flips allowing Tyrese and Wahlberg the opportunity to casually murder the (evil) drivers. Hedlund’s reaction to these murders is to be shocked and horrified but he’s fine in the very next scene which is a bit of jokey misdirection as Wahlberg wears a woman’s robe to hide his wounds from investigating officer Terrence Howard. Man, remember when Terrence Howard was in everything? Why was that? Little known fact: Hustle and Flow is terrible.
Howard’s cop character is either pretty lazy or slow on the pickup. How do you miss the fact that your longtime partner is a dirty cop? He plays pool at the bar owned by the bad guy! He answers your questions with the tone of a petulant child who’s been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Do something before he shoots you in the chest and face six times and blames it on a group of black youths. Oh, too late. RIP Terrence Howard’s character.
Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance as Victor Sweet is the gem of the film and the only obvious indicator that director John Singleton was trying to make a homage to 70’s crime and exploitation films. Victor Sweet is a villain in the Nino Brown class forcing a underling and the underling’s wife to eat pasta off the floor. In another scene he makes a dirty politician wait for him at the children’s table at a party. I kinda liked Victor Sweet.
Andre 3000 is one of the four titular brothers and he’s fine you guys. But it is hilarious(Hilarious!) that Three Stacks plays a character named Jerry. I only know of one other Jerry and he looks like this.
The finale of Four Brothers takes place on a frozen lake bed where Victor Sweet and Mark Wahlberg have a fist fight and after getting punched a couple times Sweet just gives up and lets his now former underlings pitch him into a hole in the ice. No muss, no fuss, just a frozen, watery grave for the formerly great Victor Sweet. I’ve never seen a villain resign himself to death and defeat so easily. “That Wahlberg sure can hit. I guess I should just die now.”
Four Brothers is set in Detroit which is given some establishing shots and is bad mouthed by just about every character, which explains why the film was mainly shot in Ontario. At one point a character references Ben Wallace and then says “Ah yes, Pistons!”
Why do my coworkers love this film so much? A few guesses: the scene where Mark Wahlberg takes a shit and argues with Tyrese; the fact that Mark Wahlberg clearly improvised all his lines; Fionnula Flanagan superfans.
More likely, they love a film that is called Four Brothers that spends the first 40 minutes having the characters repeatedly refer to each other brothers and explain to other characters that they are in fact brothers.