Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Howard, Josh Charles, Fionnula Flanagan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sofia Vergara
Written by: David Elliot, Paul Lovett
Directed by: John Singleton
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language and some sexual content
Running Time: 102
Date: 08/12/2005

Four Brothers (2005)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Brother' Hoods

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Set in icy, wintry Detroit, John Singleton's Four Brothers is the cool, street-smart movie that his Shaft (2000) should have been. Soulful, heartbroken songs by Marvin Gaye fill the soundtrack, while big American cars squelch through the frozen slush and a badass gangster keeps a gaggle of women dressed like Pam Grier in Foxy Brown. For a long time it's anyone's guess whether the film is even set in the present day or not (it is).

The story begins as four foster brothers Bobby Mercer (Mark Wahlberg), Angel Mercer (Tyrese Gibson), Jeremiah Mercer (Andre Benjamin) and Jack Mercer (Garrett Hedlund) return to attend their adopted mother's funeral. They eventually begin to realize that her death -- a shooting in a convenience store -- was no accident. Two cops (Terrence Howard and Josh Charles) promise help, but the brothers realize that they can work faster and more effectively on their own.

The screenplay by David Elliot and Paul Lovett unfortunately allows our heroes to fall for too many stupid traps, belying their otherwise credible intelligence. But the undeniable chemistry between the four actors adds real emotional weight to the story. Fionnula Flanagan (Waking Ned Devine) appears as the boys' mother, while Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things) steals the picture as the mad gang lord Victor Sweet. And gorgeous Sofia Vergara gets in a few licks as Angel's feisty girlfriend.

Paramount's 2005 DVD release comes with a John Singleton commentary track, several featurettes, deleted scenes a trailer, 5.1 and 2.0 audio mixes and optional English and Spanish subtitles.

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