Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
John Singleton's "Four Brothers" is an urban Western, or maybe it's an urban movie inspired by a Western; either way, it's intended to be more mythic than realistic. It connects with underlying moral currents in the way Westerns used to, back before greed, fear, anger and "society" provided action movies with all the motivation they needed.
The movie opens with a sweet white-haired grandmother type who arrives at a Detroit convenience store late at night. Wrong store, wrong neighborhood, we're thinking (was it only last week that somebody was gunned down in a store just like this in "November"?). But Evelyn Mercer (Fionnula Flanagan) has a reason to be there: A frightened young kid has been caught shop-lifting some candy, and she settles things with the store owner and puts the fear of God into the kid. Then two stickup guys walk into the store, and she is shot dead.
At the funeral, we meet her four adopted sons, two black, two white. She was a foster mother all of her life, and these were the only four she couldn't find homes for: Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), Angel (Tyrese Gibson), Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin) and Jack (Garrett Hedlund). Bobby is the oldest, the natural leader, the one with a temper. Angel is the player with a hot babe (Sofi Vergara). Jeremiah is a success; he's married (to Taraji P. Henson), has a family, is involved in real estate deals. Jack is a rock-and-roller.
They all have the name Mercer and they all consider Evelyn their mom, but they grew up on mean streets and have not spent a lot of time getting all sentimental about being "brothers." That begins to change at the funeral, when they wordlessly agree that their mother's death requires some kind of action. Jeremiah, the businessman, observes: "The people who did this are from the same streets we're from. Mom would have been the first to forgive them." True of Mom, not true of them.