Mark Wahlberg as Bobby Mercer
Tyrese Gibson as Angel Mercer
Andre Benjamin as Jeremiah Mercer
Garrett Hedlund as Jack Mercer
Terrence Howard as Lt. Green
Josh Charles as Det. Fowler
Sofia Vergara as Sofi
Fionnula Flanagan as Evelyn Mercer
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Victor Sweet
Taraji P. Henson as Camille Mercer
Barry Shabaka Henley as Councilman Douglas
Jernard Burks as Evan
Once upon a time, Evelyn Mercer, a professional foster mother, took in four troubled children who didn’t or couldn’t find a place anywhere else: Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), Angel (Tyrese Gibson), Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin) and Jack (Garrett Hedlund). When she is brutally murdered in a convenience store hold-up, the four brothers return to grieve, and seek revenge.
Four Brothers tries to mix the revenge quest with the drama of the four boys finding and learning about each other again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Particularly near the beginning, when each scene is filled with laborious exposition, it stumbles rather badly, largely due to dialogue that is often extremely on the nose. It works best in its quiet moments that combine the two.
When it does work, it’s mainly due to the chemistry among the four leads. They’re largely playing themselves, but it works. They’re not given much depth–only Garrett Hedlund’s Jack gets any real self-introspection. His Jack is the most interesting of the brothers in his reactions to the intense situations he finds himself in. It’s unfortunate he doesn’t get used more. Chiwetel Ejiofor as the villainous Victor Sweet suffers from the same problem–elevating the film when he’s around, but not being around enough.
For the most part the problems iron themselves out by the end. A thrilling second act closer leads into the final third of the film where the brothers finally confront Sweet. It doesn’t all quite work that well–the brother’s plan is a bit silly–but director John Singleton uses Western film grammar to strong effect. When Wahlberg comes walking out of the snow like a modern day High Plains Drifter, I defy even the staunchest of film cynics to keep from cheering.
Four Brothers is an excellent modern day Western mixed with a slight inspection of the nature of family, which while occasionally clunky, is often quite enjoyable.