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 (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 fuelled 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 brings "Four Brothers" to UMD with a fantastic transfer of the film, likely the same one that was utilized for the DVD that I easily gave a "reference-quality" labeling to. Capturing the moodiness of the film with awesome blues that highlight the cold wintry setting, color saturation takes top honors. Flesh tones are reproduced to appear natural and black levels are appropriately represented to provide good overall detail throughout the films exhibition. There is nothing in the form of dust particles or compression artifacts visible, just a fantastic performance of a really great film for the UMD format.
The Stereo soundtrack, when heard through the PSP provided mini-bud headphones, produces a surprisingly good soundstage. Good use of bass and naturally presented vocals pair with the retro sounds of composer David Arnold (who also scored the soundtrack for director John Singleton's Shaft remake). Overall sound levels are good, providing enough power to fuel the films presentation without the need of maxing out the volume setting.
I had only hoped that the audio commentary from director John Singleton would have made its way onto this UMD, or at least one or two of the rather informative featurettes that are found on the "Four Brothers" DVD release. Instead we just get a great presentation of the film and no added value material.
If you don't own the DVD of "Four Brothers" I would highly recommend you to check it out. This UMD presentation is great, but the DVD has the added special features that make it a better bang for your buck.