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Figure Four, ‘Four Brothers Retrospective’ (Minor Spoilers)

Updated on March 20, 2018

Original Poster

The four brothers, from left to right: Angel, Bobby, Jeremiah, and Jack
The four brothers, from left to right: Angel, Bobby, Jeremiah, and Jack | Source

Think of them like a compass

One film I use to watch daily was the action drama film Four Brothers, which came out in 2005 and directed by John Singleton. It’s one of those films I just find myself coming back to, one that’s always in the back of my mind.

The film is a loose modern remake of the western film The Sons of Katie, which came out in 1965. The plot revolves around four adopted brothers who all come together in the wake of their adoptive mother’s murder. They slowly piece together the puzzle and learn who killed her and why.

The film has an all-star cast portraying both the protagonist and secondary characters. It’s potentially one of the most memorable parts of the film is who was in it. It doesn’t mean that the film’s plot and how the characters interact isn’t memorable, as you feel yourself bonding with the protagonist once you learn of their backstories, feel in on their grief, and see how they interact with each other.

Bobby Mercer, one of the four brothers portrayed by Mark Wahlberg, is the default main protagonist. He’s the rebel of the group. According to the others he use to get into lots of trouble when he was in his teens, which shaped him into who he is. He’s brash, impulsive, and rushes into situations headfirst. Despite this he cares deeply for his family and goes to extreme lengths to protect them, including getting into gunfights.

Tyrese Gibson portrays Angel Mercer, who’s the second one to cause shenanigans after Bobby. While not quite as bad as Bobby, he’s still impulsive and brash. Andre Benjamin plays Jeremiah Mercer, the most successful of the brothers. He’s the only one who’s married with children and runs his own business. He’s also more coherent than the others, opting to think things out instead of rushing in. Garrett Hedlund plays Jack Mercer, the youngest of the four. While he too gets into trouble, he is the quietest and most withdrawn of the brothers. It’s implied that he came from a broken home before being adopted, which hints at his demeanor.

Evelyn Mercer is played by Fionnula Flanagan. She has a small role with a big impact. Though she only appears in the first few minutes of the film, the whole plot revolves around her. She was stated several times to be a kind hearted woman who looked after others. Since no one else adopted the four brothers she took it upon herself to look after them. While she is kind it’s implied that she was a rebel when she was younger, so she understood where they came from.

Throughout the film is a large supporting cast. Terrence Howard plays Lt. Green, someone familiar with the Mercers and the main officer in charge of Evelyn Mercer’s murder investigation. He comes off as a frenemy to the Mercers, talking to them like old pals, but advises them to stay out the way of the investigation. Josh Charles plays Detective Fowler, Green’s partner who’s more antagonistic to the brothers.

Sofia Vergara plays Sofi, Angel’s on-again-off-again girlfriend. She’s very sexual but quick to defend herself verbally against Bobby. Taraji P. Henson plays Camille Mercer, Jeremiah’s wife. She doesn’t have too many scenes but it’s still clear that she cares for her husband.

Personally, I think this film portrays an extremely accurate account of what a family should be. Despite the brothers not being blood related, they are portrayed as being closer than many blood-related families. They laugh and joke with each other which feel genuine. Even when things get serious and they yell at each other it feels as how a real family would argue.

One of their standout scenes is the Thanksgiving dinner. They hold hands and pray before sitting down to eat. During dinner, their mother’s spirit speaks to each one individually except for Bobby, but that’s because he hasn’t quite accepted her murder.

While they care about each other, it doesn’t always mean the same for others. At times the four brothers are portrayed as antiheroes or villain protagonist. Bobby in particular stops a basketball game by gunpoint to get information and later he threatens to cremate an attorney. They even break into a house but later apologies for it, but the point is that while the film does follow them and there are actual bad guys it’s sometimes hard to connect with the brothers due to their vigilantism and antagonism.

There were lots of action scenes, most of which were chase scenes. There is one straight shoot-out scene with a tragic end, but the overall scene was well done in terms of action. Probably the most famous action scene is the car chase through the snow, which is both tense and suspenseful but still loaded with action.

Lots of famous songs appear in the film. The main ones that stood out were songs by Marvin Gaye. The opening titles features ‘Trouble Man’ and when Bobby raids an apartment you hear ‘Inner City Blues’. The very first song you hear is ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane, which is actually quite a lively song to open with. It may be that they wanted to open on a light note before properly introducing the film on a darker tone.

Overall Four Brothers is a solid flick that’s worth checking out. The one downside is that there are quite a number of subplots that ultimately go nowhere, but the main plot keeps you invested. It has strong action scenes, funny moments, serious moments, and an all-star cast whose performances feel realistic in a realistic setting.

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