Los Angeles native John Singleton (USA, 1968) debuted with
Boyz N the Hood (1991), followed by two more realistic Los Angeles dramas:
Poetic Justice (1993) and
Higher Learning (1995).
After the mediocre
Baby Boy (2001) and
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), came his best film,
Four Brothers (2005), a fast-paced and amusing thriller.
A sweet middle-aged woman, Evelyn, catches a child stealing candies in
a convenience store. She threatens him with arrest and lectures him,
but then lets him go after he promises never to do it again.
Then two armed masked men walk into the store, shoot the clerk, steal the
money, and then kill the only witness, Evelyn.
At the funeral the chief of police, Green, tells his partner Fowler that
she was a saint, taking four adopted children out of foster care and raising
them as her own children. While they all turned out to be criminals, she
probably saved them from becoming much worse ones. The four "brothers", two
whites and two blacks, return home for the occasion. Green describes them to
Bobby, hockey player, Angel, the younger Jack,
and Jeremiah, the one who seems to have achieved middle-class status, runs
a business and has a wife and two children.
Angel upsets Bobby and Jack when he goes to fetch his ex-girlfriend Sofi, who
is now dating another man, and installs her in the house. The brothers have
dinner together and remember their mom teaching them good table manners.
Their mom's lawyer summons them to deliver her savings. He claims that he
only met her once in his life. Bobby is determined to find the goons who
killed her. Angel and Jack agree. Jerry instead thinks that their mom would
have forgiven the killers. The revengeful trio is tipped by a friend that
the official version of the police relies on a witness who saw kids
playing basketball till late. Bobby, Angel and Jack break into a party,
pretending to be cops,
to find out the two kids who killed their mom, and they torture the neighborhood gang
leader, but he swears that the version of the police doesn't make sense:
there was nobody playing volleyball at that time of the night, and he
proves it when they physically take him to the basketball courts and the
lights go off. Later they watch the video of the robbery and realize that
the two robbers knew that their mom was inside and killed her even if they
already had the money and they were masked: there was no reason to kill her
unless... the real reason of the robbery was to kill her.
They interrupt a basketball game asking the crowd for the name of the witness.
One person tries to leave and they realize he knows: he tells them that the
witness is his brother Damian. They find him that he is just going home,
but he unleashes two vicious dogs on Bobby and then tries to escape from
the window using a rope. Bobby does not hesitate to cut the rope and Damian
falls to the ground, alive but seriously wounded. Bobby refuses to call an
ambulance until Damian tells him who paid him: a man with goatee.
They track this man down in a bar, but the man and his buddy pull out the guns.
After a shootout, the two drive away in a car and the three brothers start
chasing them. Bobby drives on the icy roads while it's snowing until
the other car overturns. They pull out the two from the car and shoot
When the cops arrive, led by Green and Fowler, they quickly realize that
this was an execution and who did it. They visit the brothers in their
mom's house and warn them to stay out of the investigation.
The double execution upsets Vic, the big boss of the city. Vic humiliates
one of his henchmen and his woman forcing them to eat on the floor like dogs.
Meanwhile, Angel and Sofi are home when an insurance agent shows up: it is
about Evelyn's life insurance, a large sum left to Jerry. Angel starts
inquiring about Jerry's situation while Bobby and Jack search the place
of the men they killed for clues on who sent them and why.
Angel learns that Jerry is broke. He invested in a project that a council
member, Douglas, killed.
Bobby and Jack find pictures that show the thugs were tracking their mom,
and some pictures show her with the lawyer. They break into the lawyer's
mansion and find evidence that he met their mom even the very night of
the murder. When he arrives, they attack him and he confesses that...
he was dating Evelyn.
Angel tells Bobby and Jack that Jerry is broke and benefited from their mom's
Chief inspector Green talks to the lawyer and learns that Jerry's mom was
aware of Jerry's difficult situation and had filed a police report against
Douglas, but Green knows nothing of such a police report.
Bobby and Jacky confront Douglas and threaten to burn him alive if he doesn't
tell them who he works for: Douglas tells them it's Vic.
Green sees a video of a meeting between Fowler and Evelyn and realizes that
Fowler made her police report disappear, in fact gave it to the mob.
Angel, Bobby and Jacky now know that Vic sent the killers.
Angel also found out that Jerry owes money to a lot of people in town.
Just then they see Jerry approach an old acquaintance, Evander, and hand
him an envelop. When Jerry leaves, they confront Evander and get the
envelop, that contains money.
Meanwhile, Vic is humiliating both Douglas and another henchman.
Angel, Bobby and Jacky now suspect that Jerry is somehow involved in the
murder of their mom. Jerry confesses that he has been screwed by Douglas,
but he denies any connection to the murder.
Just then the house is attacked by masked killers armed with semiautomatic
guns. Jackie is killed, the other three manage to kill all the attackers.
Green and the cops arrive. Green tells them that
Evelyn was going after Douglas and Vic, and that's why she was killed by
Vic's men. Green also knows that Fowler took her police report and
passed it to Vic: that's how Vic learned that Evelyn was dangerous.
Fowler is a "dirty" cop. Green forgives the brothers for the massacre.
Later Green confronts Fowler in a billiard room. Green breaks a billiard
stick on Fowler but Fowler pulls out a gun and kills him. Then Fowler
calls for help pretending that someone else killed Green.
The following day there are two funerals: Green's funeral and Jacky's
The brothers come out with a final plan. Jerry visits Evander and tells him
that he's willing to pay a large sum (the life insurance) to Vic in return
for peace. Jerry waits for Evander to pick him up while Angel breaks into
Fowler's place and immobilizes him. When Angel confirms that Fowler is
his prisoner, Bobby allows Jerry to get into Evander's car. Evander's
car drives through a landscape of snow and ice to a place where a group
of gangsters has cut a hole in the ice. Then they wait for Vic's car to
Meanwhile, Angel's girlfriend Sofi walks into the police station and tells
the cops that Angel wants to kill a cop. She's trying to prevent that he
becomes a copkiller. The cops soon surround Fowler's house.
Fowler enjoys the sound of the sirens but Angel pretends to be wearing
a wire while Fowler was admitting the killing of Green. Fowler disarms
Angel and takes him hostage. Now the cops are confused because they
were expecting Angel to have taken Fowler hostage. Fowler, convinced that
the cops are about to arrest him, shoots at them. They shoot back and
Meanwhile, Vic has arrived and is making fun of the naive Jerry who brought
him the money hoping to buy peace. Vic is ready to kill Jerry. But Jerry
has a surprise for him: Jerry has bought his henchmen, who are fed up
with his humiliating manners. Bobby shows up. After a (ridiculous) fist
duel between Bobby and Vic, Vic's own henchmen throw his body into the hole
that they cut in the ice.
The police arrest the three brothers, and torture them, but the brothers do not admit murdering Vic, and are eventually released.
They begin a new life in Evelyn's house.
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