It’s odd, but I think that Four Brothers might be the type of film that would get better with multiple viewings. The reason for this is the way that the story is told. The film opens with a bang, literally. A convenience store is being robbed, and the owner and an old woman are the only two people in the store at the time of the robbery. They both end up being killed by the robbers. It turns out that this woman was a foster care parent, who had found homes for thousands of troubled children over her 30 year career. She only had four children over that time that she couldn’t find homes for; she put them up herself.
Now we have these four people, brothers to the end, who are mad that their foster-mother has been taken from them. It’s revenge time in the Mercer household, and the people who ended the life of the woman are going to be killed. The four brothers are going to make sure of it. The brothers themselves all coming from different situations, both in their ethnic and social backgrounds. We have two Caucasians (Mark Wahlberg and Garrett Hedlund), as well as two African-Americans (Tyrese Gibson and André Benjamin).
The brothers are close, granted, not close enough to suspect each other of planning the murder of their mother at times, but they are close. They rip into each other whenever they get the chance, but they never stop being there for each other. We get a good sense in their relationship throughout the course of the film. We get a quick biography of each one near the beginning, when a police officer reads off what they have brought to society as a whole. Not much, it would seem. They’re all delinquents, and we find out why the woman was unable to find homes for them.
But they don’t act like delinquents at all. Sure, they break the law in order to get their revenge, but they don’t act like you would think they should. They’re polite to everyone that they don’t suspect had anything to do with their mother’s death. Bobby Mercer (Mark Wahlberg) apparently had just spent a large amount of time in jail, and yet he doesn’t act anywhere close to how you would expect someone who had just been imprisoned to act. These people aren’t great, but they sure aren’t terrible.
Their actions towards the people they suspect, on the other hand, are brutal. They do whatever is required to get the information they require, including having full-blown shootouts in the middle of the day with several armed men. They interrupt a high school basketball game just to find the alleged witness of the murders. These men are brutal, when it comes down to it, but they only act like that when it comes to dealing with their late mother. Maybe this is due to her death, and they’ve all changed for the better, but that never comes up and is never expanded upon.
I mentioned at the beginning that Four Brothers might get better with repeated viewings, and I definitely believe this to be true. The event that shapes the entire movie happens at the beginning, meaning that we don’t care for any of the characters when it happens. On the first viewing, there won’t be any emotional attachment to the brothers. On a second or third viewing, everything that you find out about them through the course of the film will make you care about what happens at the beginning. We get the back-story of the characters throughout, and mostly through quips directed at each other. It doesn’t come out all at once, and it isn’t always up-front about it, but it is there. This makes repeat viewings all the more fun, as you will be emotionally invested in the characters of the film.
In fact, you might be more emotionally invested in the characters than the actors playing them were. It’s an emotionally driven revenge film, and yet, the actors didn’t really seem to put their heart into it. Nobody really stood out as good or bad, but they didn’t give off the appearance that they cared about the project. There are many scenes in which strong emotions needed to be shown, and they just didn’t show them strongly enough. They are still angry when they should be, and they cry when sad, but they don’t do any of it with any passion. Even during certain action scenes, the characters don’t appear angry at the people they are facing off against.
However, if you can get over that, the action scenes themselves are quite good. They aren’t inventive or creative in any way, but they manage to stay entertaining. There are a couple shootouts, a car chase, and a few interrogations. It’s basically what you can expect going in, and if that is your main concern, Four Brothers will not disappoint you.
Four Brothers is an emotionally driven film. Not from the actors, but from the audience. Most of the actors phoned it in, despite the characters needing to show emotion for most of the film. The characters are interesting enough though, and you get a good sense of the brotherly bond that they share, even if they aren’t blood-related. They don’t quite seem like the delinquents that the police believe them to be, as they act just fine with anyone that didn’t have anything to do with their mother’s killing. Ultimately, Four Brothers is a fun revenge flick, containing interesting characters and entertaining action sequences.