With impressive urban dramas under his belt, John Singleton sets out to create another classic. Boyz n The Hood is always associated with this genre, in terms of quality it remains a classic drama. Four Brothers doesn’t attempt a serious get out of the hood type movie, but rather an action film with serious themes and tones. Well that’s not to say that there isn’t a laugh or two in here, because there sure is.
It’s a cold November night in Detroit; Evelyn Mercer enters a convenience store to …ail an underage thief out of trouble. We learn that she is a compassionate elderly lady that sees the best in everyone. As she proceeds to pick out a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner two masked men enter the store, demanding money and making threats. They shoot and kill the cashier proceeding to the back of the store where they hear Evelyn rustling around. Without hesitation they take her life and flee from the store into the snowy night.
The Mercer brothers, Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), Angel (Tyrese Gibson), Jack (Garrett Hedlund), and Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin) are all brought back together for the funeral of their adoptive mother. Following an emotional funeral they all make way to Jeremiah’s house for a prayer service where we learn they are being monitored by a childhood friend and police officer Lt. Green (Terrence Howard). If we hadn’t already assumed, we learn that they all have troubled background and extensive criminal records.
Afterwards, they all go back to the house they grew up in where their mother had still lived. They try enjoying a dinner without her present, but have a hard time doing so as they all have flash backs of her kind nature. They all deal with the death in their own way while helping each other out without ever getting emotional. This is where the emotionally driven part of the movie ends, and the action begins. The brothers set out on their mission to find out what really happened with their mother. They discover that the “robbery-gone-wrong” idea that the police had believed to be the case is wrong, and there was in fact a hit put out on their mother.
From this point on there is non-stop action, humorous dialogue between the brothers, and constant advancements in the twisted plot. The thing I liked about this movie was that I could laugh one second, and be immersed in a shootout the next, or even at the same time. It was never too serious, and never too humorous. I truly felt for these brothers as they fall deeper into the web of lies that covered up their mother’s death.
I was impressed with the acting, especially Terrance Howard as Lt. Green, one of those old fashioned cops who looked for the truth, even if it meant putting away a crooked friend. Terrance Howard has time and time again proven to be a versatile actor, Four Brothers being no exception. Mark Wahlberg played the kind of role I have always loved him in, a tough guy barking out orders and getting things done. Not to say he was just all brawn, he had brains too, I guess he just never applied them to the right applications in life. Then there was Outkast’s Andre Benjamin, I saw him in Be Cool and wasn’t sure he could play anything more than a half-baked street thug. I was impressed with his ability to play the logistical family man of the brothers, but ultimately I still think of him as a rapper not an actor. Garrett Hedlund played a great half innocent disturbed character, while Tyrese Gibson played the same roll I’m used to him playing, the angry tough guy.
Ultimately this is a great action movie with some impressive acting as well. There is a lot of emotion put into this movie without ever being too over dramatic. We meet some pretty hardcore gangsters, an empathetic lawyer, an elderly woman with a heart of gold, and one of Detroit’s finest. There is a wide range of characters, and each plays their respective role with much conviction. Definitely a must see for any action film enthusiast.
Presented in 1080p 2.35:1 wide screen aspect ratio proves to be another impressive release. The blacks were very dark, and overall very sharp. Four Brothers boasts a very crisp look showcasing the Detroit firefights extremely well.
In comparison to the standard DVD release, there are a lot of improvements, overall a much smoother look. If I had to complain about one thing it would be that the colors weren’t bright enough at times. Then again, this is an urban movie and I’m sure a dark feel is what was intended. The details are overall fantastic; from shadows to snowflakes I was very impressed.
I was excited when I first threw this disc into my player, because I knew about all the booms and bangs this movie had to offer. On top of that, this disc boasts Dolby Digital-Plus as well as DTS 5.1. In comparison to the standard definition release there is a lot of improvements especially in bass department. The ringing gunshots sound as good as the urban soundtrack, but good isn’t great like HD DVDs have potential of being. There was an overall lack of surround usage, which was a disappointment to me being such a caliber action movie.
Four Brothers is basically a front heavy mix, but gets the job done. In comparison to some of the better HD DVDs it falls short, however in comparison to the standard definition DVD Four Brothers has come a real long way. Ultimately I was impressed aside from the few rough edges.
- Commentary by Director John Singleton: John Singleton discusses the various aspects of making this film, along with some of the themes as well.
- The Look of Four Brothers: Discusses the fashion behind each of the four brothers, and what went into the costume design.
- Crafting Four Brothers: A look into the differences of each character, and how they wanted them to be presented in the film.
- Behind the Brotherhood: Shows us how the actors interacted together off the screen, I thought it was very interesting as they did seem to have a bond off the set as well.
- Mercer House Shootout: A look at how the famous shootout was filmed.
- Deleted Scenes: 9 scenes that apparently weren’t good enough to make the final cut, still I thought they were very entertaining.
- Theatrical Trailer
A solid disc which has a handful of decent features, accompanied by good visuals and a crisp audio presentation. The movie itself features a solid cast and a great shoot-em-up type action movie. If you are already a fan of this movie, then pick up the HD DVD version because it’s worth it. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and you’re into high-speed car chases, shootouts, and fist fights I suggest you pick yourself up a copy of the HD DVD.
Special Features List
- Commentary by Director John Singleton
- The Look of Four Brothers
- Crafting Four Brothers
- Behind the Brotherhood
- Mercer House Shootout
- Deleted Scenes
- Theatrical Trailer