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Four Brothers Review

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Four foster brothers return to their childhood home in Detroit when the elderly woman who saved them from the streets is murdered in a botched robbery. As they get to know each other again, they begin to suspect there’s been a cover-up and set out to wrea

★★★★★

From Boyz N The Hood to 2 Fast 2 Furious, the career of John Singleton proves two things. One, the man cannot spell. Two, as a director, he’s much more interesting when developing character-driven drama than he is when given the keys to a soulless Hollywood actioner.Fortunately, Four Brothers plays to his strengths. There’s a car chase — and it’s ten times better than 2 Fast’s oily pile-ups — but the focus is squarely on the dynamic between the unruly central quartet. Whether it’s Mark Wahlberg teasing Garrett Hedlund’s runt-of-the-litter, or all four of them piling into the bathroom like kids, the small moments ring true. This keeps the energy levels high – when it strips down into a revenge thriller, the bickering foursome makes a refreshing change from the dour lone vigilante that usually stalks these kind of films. But Singleton’s picked up a few bad habits from his times paddling in the blockbuster shallows. The villain — Detroit gangster Victor Sweet (Chiwitel Eijifor) — is so cartoonishly diabolical that all he’s missing is a cat and a secret underground lair. Such lack of sophistication isn’t disastrous, and Singleton’s ambition within the hackneyed revenge thriller genre is intriguing, with Four Brothers coming off as a kind of chilly urban Western.

Heavy-handed in places and bad news for the Detroit Tourist Commission, this is still a slick, fun ensemble piece and a step back in the right direction for Singleton.