Four Brothers

Four Brothers (2005)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Mark Wahlberg,Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Howard, Josh Charles
Extras: Audio Commentary, Deleted Footage, Featurettes

John Singleton blends blaxploitation and his love of the spaghetti western theme to produce an original spin on the typical revenge plotted story with his latest film "Four Brothers". Set in Detroit's mostly blue collar neighborhoods, four adopted brothers; Bobby Mercer (Mark Wahlberg), Angel (Tyrese Gibson), Jeremiah (Andre Benjamin) and the youngest brother of the group Jack (Garrett Hedlund) return home to grieve and then avenge their adoptive mother Evelyn's (Fionnula Flanagan) death.

Soon after the funeral, questions arise as to why a saintly individual such as Evelyn would be gunned down in a convenience store for such a minimal amount of money? Then the plot thickens as we discover that her death was by no means a simple random act of violence. Involving corrupt higher ranking city officials, dirty cops and a local criminal kingpin, the "Four Brothers", with the mean streets of Detroit as their backdrop, turn their anger and sadness into a violence fueled vendetta against all involved in Evelyn's untimely death.

Clever style and mood blend to make this mostly character-driven story as tightly woven as possible, even though the film treads a rather thin line that may cause you to question the direction and believability of some scenes. For the most part, "Four Brothers" is all about the main characters; I mean the film is called "Four Brothers" so one would expect a story about the complexities of relationships and interactions between the group, and director John Singleton delivers just that. There is also no denying that you will witness one of the more stylish and memorable gun battles in recent memory, thanks to the care given to the sequence under Singleton's direction and precise execution from cinematographer Peter Menzies Jr.

Paramount Home Entertainment delivers a spectacular High-Definition presentation of "Four Brothers" to the HD DVD format. Displaying an original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Back when I originally reviewed this film on DVD, I could not help but simply rave about the dazzling reference-quality of the transfer. The Standard-Definition DVD easily became one of the high points of my personal collection, for both content and presentation. With the introduction of "Four Brothers" on HD DVD, that bar has been raised once again. "Four Brothers" is simply one of the best presentations on the HD DVD format to date. The sensational color saturation produces even and natural flesh tones, while the rest of the image displays a subtle and intentional bluish tone that works quite well for setting the climate of the story's wintry settings. The product of a proper balance between a rich black level and vivid whites, the HD DVD of "Four Brothers" exhibits amazing details and great contrast. There is also no introduction of even the tiniest spec of dust or dirt, just a razor-sharp image to impress overall.

The top-notch presentation does not stop at the audio portion of the film, which comes wonderfully mixed on the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 sound track (with an added English DTS 5.1 option). The sound track offers a terrific balance that sees naturally reproduced vocals and a tight crossover between all available channels. The well proportioned bass levels serve to enhance the overall presentation, while keeping your lower frequency sub-woofer channel at full attention.

Paramount Home Entertainment has added a nice assortment of special features to compliment the HD DVD release of "Four Brothers", which are the exact same offerings that are found on the Standard-Definition DVD release.

Starting with a feature-length audio commentary from director John Singleton. Choosing to invest the time to hear director John Singleton's personal comments about his latest work, turned out to be a rewarding experience and a definite must if you enjoyed the feature presentation of "Four Brothers".

There is also the inclusion of four separate behind-the-scenes featurettes beginning with "The Look of Four Brothers" that delves into how the filmmakers created the "look" of Detroit, even though the film was shot in the cities of Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario. "Crafting Four Brothers" focuses on the writing styles used in the films theme, with input from writers; David Elliot and Paul Lovett. "Behind the Brotherhood" offers director John Singleton's views about the close relationships between the four main characters in the story and how he chose to keep the main focus on his characters relations and interactions providing a good balanced character driven story. "Mercer House Shootout" is a featurette dedicated to the visual effects utilized in the set-up and execution of the main gun battle featured in the film.

A nice addition of five deleted scenes, with a total running time of just over eleven minutes, a theatrical trailer and selected previews complete the added materials section.

If you're in the mood for a great revenge inspired story that is fueled by a well written script and features a great performance from the always entertaining hard-ass presence of Mark Wahlberg, I can easily recommend you spending an evening with the HD DVD of "Four Brothers".