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"Four Brothers" = Gangsta Family Values

  • Eric Rice Contributing Writer
  • 2005 12 Aug
"Four Brothers" = Gangsta Family Values

Release Date:  August 12, 2005
Rating: R (strong violence, pervasive language, and sexual content)
Genre:  Action/Drama
Run Time:  95 minutes
Director:  John Singleton
Actors:  Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Howard, Josh Charles, Sofia Vergara, and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Director John Singleton has made a career out of hard-hitting, gritty films depicting the rough side of inner city life, having been nominated for Academy Awards for “Boyz N the Hood.”  So it comes as no surprise to find he's now at the helm of “Four Brothers,” a mafia-style, gangs-in-the-hood genre film.

The movie is set in cold, dreary Chicago where four “brothers” come home to avenge the death of their “mom,” who was killed execution-style by masked gunmen while in the corner store where she worked. Actually, the mom, (Fionnulla Flanagan), is an angelic adoptive mother who brought the four “toughest cases” into her home to raise.  It was her consistent and tough love that the boys, now men, consider their salvation.

Though the men are not related by blood, and two are white and two are black, they have their “mom” in common.  Mark Wahlberg plays Bobby Mercer, a super-tough, two-fisted brawler who spent a great deal of time in a prison.  Tyrese Gibson, as Angel Mercer, is the other tough guy of the foursome, an ex-soldier and a powerfully intimidating figure.  Andre Benjamin, one of the hit-making duo OutKast, is the calmer businessman and family man of the group, while Garrett Hedlund plays the younger, dope-smoking, homosexual, “pretty boy” member of the four.

“Four Brothers” is meant to be an exciting, funny and emotional film that draws you in to a relationship of brothers and makes you want to cheer them on as they take vengeance on their enemies. Instead, however, the viewer suffers from near non-stop “I love you brother, though you are a stupid, filthy piece of *#@^*.  And now I am going to hit you and demean you in every possible way.  But remember we are brothers, so let’s have a good laugh after blowing these guys’ brains out” type of dialogue.

Basically, the movie does have a plot.  There is a dirty cop on the take, a good cop who is sympathetic, and one of the brothers has a side deal going on that is hidden from the other three.  The bad guy is truly bad and must be destroyed.  We do find out why dear-sweet-old Mom is killed.  We also find out that is she has a lover about her same age.

The rest of the movie follows the four brothers as they intimidate, threaten, beat up, kill and maim anyone in their way.  Every possible obscenity is used, and there is even a "delightful" (supposedly funny) scene where Bobby (Wahlberg) is sitting on the commode while Jack (Hedlund) is showering in the same room.  Angel (Gibson) comes in and they have a conversation about the current situation with the vengeance, while adding quips about defecating. Angel is worried about a rash on his male member, and Bobby asks Jack, since he's gay, to lean out of the shower and have a look at Angel’s part and give his “expert” opinion of the situation.

First off, men DO NOT share a bathroom.  Second, men DO NOT show other men their private parts unless the other man has a Dr. before his name. Keep in mind that this ludicrous scene is intermingled with extreme violence and bloodshed.  Besides a sex scene that is interrupted by a nervous insurance agent, there is a bizarre scene where the four men are eating dinner at the table in “mom’s” house and each one has a moment where they “see” Mom and she talks to them as she used to when they were kids. Bobby’s vision (Wahlberg) comes at the end after all the bodies are dragged away and the brothers are repairing Mom’s house from the thousands of bullet holes.  She says something corny like, “Bobby, it’s always good to have you around the house.”

Phrases like “might makes right” and “the end justifies the means” come to mind for a movie that is filled with anti-heroes who are only a hair “nicer” than the bad guys they kill on their vengeance road.

“Four Brothers” is meant to leave the audience with a sense of “justice wins” or a “brothers who stick together can do anything” uplifting sort of feeling when it is over.  But instead, this particular reviewer (who really likes action films) walked away feeling only jangled and uncomfortable.

AUDIENCE:  Adults only


  • Drugs/Alcohol Content:  Bar scenes with depictions of alcohol
  • Language/Profanity:  Over 100 obscenities with several profanities
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Main characters on a washing machine.
  • Violence:  Excessive, with gun and fistfights, car crashes, murders, etc.