It’s been 14 years since director John Singleton stormed the film world with his breakthrough Boyz N The Hood — a film with a message. He’s out with a new film, Four Brothers – a film that, best as I can tell, really only wants to be taken as entertainment.
Four Brothers definitely works as an urban thriller. Its logic is all over the place. However, if you stop to think about what is being passed off as credible you will get a major headache. This is in stark contrast to Boys N The Hood which from the first frame took you into a searingly honest, real world where parents fear for their children’s future. In Singleton’s latest film, it’s the kids doing the fearing for their parents, but only as motivation for some serious gun violence. Mom’s been killed, revenge must be exacted, and the body count must hit more than a dozen.
There are some things to really like about Four Brothers. I like that it’s willing to define a family in our increasingly diverse society as something that might include whites and blacks together. I also think that the car chase in the snow, with cars sliding all over, into each other, losing control, is just incredible. But its use of violence as the attraction contrasts its predecessor’s use of violence as a frightful message.
Boyz N The Hood is about stark choices, real conflicts. It’s an important film. Obviously, Singleton had a lot more on his mind back then, at a time when Los Angeles was about to explode in riots. His film helps to explain some of the rage we saw on the television.
Boyz N The Hood. Because it was, without question, one of the best films of the 90s. And his latest effort may barely be the best film of the week.
Movies-Squared (Two Reviews for the Price of One!) reviews one film out in the theaters today by comparing it to a related film out on DVD — and declares a winner. The connection might be subject matter, director, actor, whatever…
Bryce Zabel is a working screenwriter/producer whose current credits include The Poseidon Adventure and Blackbeard. He was chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences from 2001-2003. He maintains two other blogs: his flagship News! — Views! — & Schmooze! and Instant History.