One thing that makes “Four Brothers” exciting even now is the anarchy of its world, the lack of rules, which comes straight from the “urban westerns” that John Singleton watched growing up. In those movies, corruption was the word – one violent, unsympathetic man might be enough to save the day, but that wouldn’t fix the whole unjust system. For the Mercer brothers, their only way out was to get out of Detroit the second they could — now they’re stuck there again, until they can break free from this case.
The brothers reconcile when possible, and Jeremiah and Bobby team up to take on Victor Sweet while Angel tries to take down the dirty cop, Fowler (Josh Charles). Bobby’s arrival at the climax, a figure in the distance walking across frozen Lake St. Clair, is incredibly cool – kind of like a Midwestern “Lawrence of Arabia” riff. Even if it’s not a movie Singleton has cited among the many he’s claimed as influences.
Singleton told blackfilm.com about his voracious movie-watching as a child, saying “all I did was watch movies…I could just look out the window and I could see Kung Fu movies and blaxploitation movies and slasher movies.” “Four Brothers” was clearly directed by someone obsessed with genre films. Although it is not one of Singleton’s Best Moviesit’s still a great display of cinematic mastery and a tribute to a singularly nihilistic era of American cinema.