What I Think about Four Brothers

In my review of the Dark Knight, I pointed out how a film must be believable. This doesn’t mean that every aspect must happen as it would in the actual, but it must take the audience seriously. The film must be present the story in a manner consistent with the way it could happen. Dark Knight failed this test, as does Four Brothers.

Four Brothers is a story about the revenge of four adopted brothers following the murder of their mother. Along the way, they discover the corrupt underworld of Detroit city politics. Four Brothers stars Mark Wahlberg, who is one of Hollywood’s most prolific figures. Wahlberg has acted in, directed, or produced some of the biggest films, included the Departed, Three Kings, and the Substitute. Wahlberg is listed as the executive producer of Entourage, which is one of the few TV shows that I watch. Wikipedia, the source of all things true, states that Wahlberg has a criminal record including the use of hard drugs and that he has committed seriously violent crimes against African and Asian Americans.

The Detroit described by Four Brothers is nothing like any city that you or I have been to. Guns, guns, guns, guns are everywhere. There are more guns in Wahlberg Detroit than in a spaghetti western. At one point, Wahlberg walks into a high school basketball game waving a handgun demanding someone tell him who shot his mother. And while gangsters have plenty time to send around their death squad to handle Wahlberg and his brothers, the police are nowhere is sight.

But that’s not the problem. Who cares if the city is called Detroit? It could just as easily be Tombstone or Gotham City. It doesn’t even have to be in the United States except to explain why everyone speaks English. It’s just a setting where the director can produce as much violence as he or she thinks is necessary to tell the story. The problem with Four Brothers is much deeper in the details.

Like Dark Knight, the story may be interesting, the script well-written, and the acting captivating, but there’s something still in the film that tells us the directors are treating us like fools. Following the basketball game I mentioned above, Wahlberg and his brothers discover they need to interrogate another hoodlum. In the process of capturing him, Wahlberg is bitted by 2 rottweilers. Rather than heading to the hospital to see if the leg could be saved, Wahlberg jumps up, runs down the villain and tortures him into telling him whom next he has to beat senseless.

But why even have him bitten by a dog? There are a hundred different ways the scene could have been filmed. I know that Bobby Mercer (Wahlberg) is supposed to be tough but he’s also supposed to be a human being and not some sort of superhero. In having him bitten by a dog and walk away, the director, John Singleton, who wrote and directed Boyz n the Hood, is asking us to ignore this and pretend it’s just part of the fun, like the gun waving and shooting in the streets of Detroit. But it’s not. The city has to have a name, but dogs don’t have to bit Bobby Mercer.

In doing this the film isn’t ruined, but it is that little bit less fun than it could be. Four Brothers has some interesting ideas that it conveys, but like so much of what comes out of Hollywood, it refuses to take the audience seriously and continues in the tradition of telling ridiculous stories.

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