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After their adoptive mother is gunned down during a grocery store holdup, the estranged brothers reunite to seek revenge and take matters into their own hands. Defying police orders, the four begin turning their old Detroit neighborhood upside down searching for the mastermind behind the brutal killing. Along the way, they discover they are bound by ties thicker than blood in this emotionally powerful, action-packed drama.
For more about Four Brothers and the Four Brothers Blu-ray release, see Four Brothers Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 15, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, André Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Howard, Sofía Vergara
Director: John Singleton
» See full cast & crew
Four Brothers Blu-ray Review
Forgettable lossy audio drags down an otherwise solid Blu-ray release from Paramount.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 15, 2013
Director John Singleton's (Boyz n the Hood) Four Brothers doesn't really do anything new with the brothers-in-arms/ inner-city violence/corrupt cop/crime lords/big money scandal/revenge motifs that are so common in cinema storytelling, but his film mixes them all together into a well-acted, oftentimes moving, and consistently entertaining tale of family and vengeance that explores a little more deeply than most the bond of not necessarily blood, but the sort born of common backgrounds, unflinching love, and a shared understanding. Singleton's picture maneuvers through the obligatory character twists and dramatic turns, but it plays with an air of authenticity and beautiful cast camaraderie; the actors buy into Singleton's vision and help shape the movie beyond genre confines and into something better, a movie that espouses togetherness and trust even in the shadow of violence and misdeeds. Four Brothers doesn't redefine the genre, but in many ways it does define it, all that's good about it, while showing the best and worst humanity has to offer.
Bobby (Mark Wahlberg, Shooter), Angel (Tyrese Gibson, Transformers), Jeremiah (André Benjamin, Revolver), and Jack (Garrett Hedlund, Tron: Legacy) aren't related by blood but do share their own unique sense of kinship. They're all foster children living with the kindly Evelyn (Fionnula Flanagan, The Others). She's done her best to raise them right; instill in them good, honest values; and teach them to respect one another. One evening, she's murdered in a convince store stickup. Following a period of mourning during which the brothers are confronted by the cops staying on top of them -- Green (Terrence Howard) and Fowler (Josh Charles) -- they set out to exact revenge on their slain mother. Yet the further they dig into the case, the more they become convinced that she wasn't a target of random violence. The closer the brothers get to the truth, the more danger they face and the more they come to realize that there's much more at stake than murder and revenge.
Four Brothers finds its heart in David Elliot and Paul Lovett's rather straightforward script, but it finds its soul in the superb cast camaraderie and the natural way in which the characters interact. Few movies of this sort -- action-driven stories -- find so much sincerity, integrity, and believable chemistry between the leads. Singleton's cast is largely faultless in delivery not of lines but in delivery of attitudes and lifestyles; Four Brothers is home to a roster that feels genuine and doesn't just take on the appearance of authenticity. Though their characters are not bound together by blood, the cast finds something even stronger for the people they play, and they feed not only off of the dynamics of the story but off of one another, off the palpable emotion and sense of togetherness they engender in every scene. Fionnula Flanagan is fantastic in her limited appearances and it's a shame she's necessarily removed from the film as early as she is. Nonetheless, her character and performance make for an unseen but widely felt lifeblood that pulsates throughout the film, that doesn't just drive the plot but rather defines the characters and their actions. Singleton brings his players and script together with uncanny precision, and it's their elevation to not-easily-reached heights that lifts Four Brothers up from genre mediocrity and into the realm of more easily remembered and praiseworthy cinema.
As a Drama and Action film, Four Brothers satisfies, though only because of its cast and Singleton's steady direction that accentuates the cast camaraderie and helps define the story through an expert pace and a manner of filmmaking that makes the audience feel like a participant, someone with stake in the story's outcome and the emotions that shape it. The script, for its rather routine cadence, does inject some interesting but not particularly novel plot twists into the film. This isn't transparent cinema, but neither is it groundbreaking. Structurally, it's a sound tale of inner city violence and personal togetherness forged through bonds of love and friendship, of dedication to family -- however one may define that -- and standing together rather than hanging apart. The film's action shies away from "superhero" antics and instead finds a middle ground that defines action through the prism of realism but with enough excitement to satisfy the expectations of a movie that's partially driven by gunplay. The entire film thrives on a sense of balance; in that regard it's one of the better of its kind.
Four Brothers Blu-ray, Video Quality
Four Brothers made its Blu-ray debut way back in the early days of the format, and even years later the transfer holds up nicely. Paramount's high definition image retains a light grain structure and offers very good detailing across the board. Faces, fine clothing lines, creased leather, worn urban elements, and bullet-riddled bricks all take on a nicely sharp and natural appearance. There are some softer shots throughout the film; they appear in limited quantities and are not representative of the positive, sharp, and clear definition that's the rule. Colors are also very nice. The film opens with a bright array of varied, colorful products within a convenience store that are displayed with a true-to-life appearance. The film does take on a slightly gray, darker tone throughout, accentuated by the cold weather and gray-dominated urban wear, but the palette nevertheless offers a very nice range of accurate shades no matter the interior or exterior settings. Skin tones never waver, and blacks are mostly solid. There's some light shimmering on a few surfaces -- a checkered sports coat for instance -- but the image is otherwise largely free of excess eyesores. It's an oldie but it's still a goodie; this is a rock-solid, high quality Blu-ray transfer from Paramount.
Four Brothers Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The weak spot of Four Brothers' Blu-ray release is undoubtedly its soundtrack(s). Paramount has included both lossy DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 presentations that just aren't up to par with the average Action movie presentation in high definition. The Dolby Digital track does offer fairly clear and accurate music, though it's met with some limitations in terms of energy. It plays rather feebly across the front with little perceptible back channel heft. The surrounds pick up precious little information, in fact, carrying some minor ambience but nothing truly aggressive. A basketball game features some good sound effects of crowds cheering, sneakers squeaking, and the ball dribbling; the sense of space is evident inside the gym, and the effects presented clearly, but there's just not much urgency or natural oomph to the moment. The real weak point comes in gunfire delivery. Shots are disappointingly puny, whether single shots inside confined spaces or as part of a barrage of automatic weapons fire in the film's major exterior shootout. They sound like cap guns rather than real weapons, effectively diminishing the excitement and urgency of the scenes. Dialogue is rather clear and center-focused, and there's never a problem with intelligibility. The DTS track doesn't improve on any of these areas to any degree of significance; this is a disappointing pair of tracks that both handle the basics well enough but that leave listeners disappointed at the end of the film.
Four Brothers Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Four Brothers contains a commentary track, several featurettes, deleted scenes, and more.
Four Brothers Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Four Brothers ascends above the usual dramatically inspired Action movie thanks to a strong character roster and several top-grade performances. Underneath, the movie isn't much of anything special -- the plot is fine but forgettable and the action exciting but hardly novel -- but the cast breathes a life into the movie that few others of this sort enjoy, and their work turns Four Brothers into an intimate and well above-average movie, even considering that its basics would seem to suggest a much lower ceiling. John Singleton's direction does well to accentuate the film's best assets and emotionally involve the audience with the characters and their plights. All in all, this is a good movie that shouldn't be overlooked as just another run-of-the-mill, dramatically inspired Action flick. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Four Brothers features solid HD video, a pair of bland lossy 5.1 soundtracks, and an average assortment of extras ported over from previous standard definition releases. Hopefully the film will see a re-release with lossless audio and some new supplemental content, but for now, and considering the relatively low asking price, this release earns a recommendation.
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