2005-08-25 / Columnists


By Robert Snyder

Filmmaker John Singleton is on a roll these days, with his powerful production of “Hustle and Flow,” followed by his directorial hit, “Four Brothers.” 

The inner-city sibling revenge drama earned $20.7 million and a number one spot at the box office opening weekend.

“Brothers” bounces off a basic premise: “Don’t mess with my momma.”

Angelic Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan) is the adoptive mother of four delinquents, whom she took into her foster home giving them conscience and character. The brothers (two black, two white) are hothead Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), lover-boy Angel (Tyrese Gibson), rock-star wannabe Jack (Garrett Hedlund) and family man Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin), whose ambition leads him to entanglements with the mob leader Victor Sweet (Chiwetel Ejiofor, a British actor though you’d never know it).

We’re introduced to the four siblings by way of voice narration from police Lt. Green (Terrence Howard, unrecognizable from his “Hustle and Flow” pimp role). He’s updating his partner Detective Fowler (Josh Charles) during the burial service of Evelyn, who was violently killed in a convenience store.

The cops are bracing for some serious vigilante action from the Mercer brothers after it becomes clear that Momma’s murder was premeditated. The David Elliot/Paul Lovett screen story pumps up the action, while keeping the plot plod-free. Highlights are a classic car chase and a frightening gunfight. All take place in what appears to be bitterly cold weather conditions, particularly a final confrontation on a frozen lake.

Singleton creates a tough, no-nonsense crime thriller, which will appeal to youths hungry for justifiable film violence. After all, who could blame four guys out to avenge the murder of their mother?

For those in search of a high-octane cinematic shoot-em up, “Four Brothers” is a good bet and better than most macho movies.

You may even want to bring Mom.

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