I didn’t expect a lot from this movie, it was one of those that someone else dragged me to see. Upon leaving the movie I reflected on that fact, and thanked the person for getting me to see the movie. Four Brothers may not have Oscar potential, and it won’t be a blockbuster, but it’s one of the better films I’ve seen this year, and the subjects brought to face by the movie are eternal. Morality, family, vengeance and justice are all themes that this movie forces us to confront.
The movie opens in Detroit at a local convenience store. An old woman is murdered when the store is robbed. At the funeral there is a reunion of the woman’s four adopted children.
The adopted children are a collection of misfits and criminals. Bobby Mercer played by Mark Wahlberg is the oldest. These men are all tough, hardened men. However, they have a large soft spot for their adopted mother and each other. They are religious, they pray before meals. They are good brothers, and it shows that family love is not about blood. They are of different races, but race is no matter to them. It’s an important message.
However, they are still violent people, and they decide to seek out vengeance for their mother’s death. This is the first moral theme, vengeance. They want to make whoever killed their mother pay for the crime, and they go outside the law to do it. It’s vigilantism. Our protagonists, while we in the audience know them to be good people, force us to dissent in their ways. But the question lingers, was their vigilantism right?
The characters are moral, they are throwbacks to the cowboy era of America, and their John Wayne attitudes are juxtaposed with the cruel modernity of Detroit. In America we love justice more than we love the law, and for the most part we know that law doesn’t exist for its own sake. This movie takes us across the gray and forces to question how far we’ll take our beliefs in justice.
This movie is violent but has good messages about race. It has good messages about family. It’s also a wonderful story and every performance is done well. It’s worth the cost of admission. John Singleton directed this film.