Fast & Furious 6
Director Justin Lin takes the high-speed action franchise to London, with Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson along for the ride
When their adopted mother is murdered, four very different men bind together to find her killer. Mark Wahlberg stars in John Singleton's gritty urban revenge flick
A ghetto-set, multi-racial remake of the John Wayne/Dean Martin vehicle The Sons Of Katie Elder, Four Brothers is a pleasing return to gritty form for John Singleton. After the vapid Hollywood gloss of 2 Fast 2 Furious and - shudder - Shaft, this is still mainstream, but has an edginess missing from so much of the director's later work.
When saintly foster mom Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan) is gunned down in a convenience-shop robbery, her four adopted sons return to the Detroit slums looking for answers. The Mercer boys have all taken very different paths. Former union organiser Jeremiah (André Benjamin) has gone legit, trying to make it as a property developer. Muscle-bound Angel (Tyrese Gibson) has done a stint in the military. Youngest boy Jack (Garrett Hedlund) is a wannabe rock star, and hotheaded Bobby (Mark Wahlberg) is a former convict with a penchant for violence and zero self-control.
Dipping their toes into the local underworld, the brothers soon realise that their mother's death was no simple robbery. But the deeper they go, the tougher the crooks they find themselves facing off against. Are the Mercers up to the job?
This is Singleton in stripped-down form. The basic plot chugs along with relatively few frills and extras, giving space for Wahlberg (all eye-rolls and psycho twitches) and co to puff up their caricature roles into something fairly believable before the staging of the second and third act action sequences - a slippery car chase through the snowy streets and a blistering shoot-out respectively.
It feels like a film with its feet grounded in the 1970s rather the first decade of the 21st century, with its Blaxploitation-style soundtrack, monochrome look and bleakly amoral approach to violence: people are tortured, have petrol poured over them and even the good guys commit execution-style killings. There are jokes and tough guy one-liners but the laughs are muted and very often the punchline sees someone snuff it. Getting a 15 certificate must have been touch and go.
Four Brothers is nothing new but it is a hard-nosed and effective urban thriller. Best of all, it's a break from the glossy CGI, MTV norm and, for that, Singleton's got to be congratulated.
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