Directed by John Singleton, starring Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Garret Hedlund, Terrence Howard, Josh Charles, Sofia Vergara, Fionnula Flanagan and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

It's a story of the most unlikely of brothers: two black, two white; two relatively clean-living and two borderline gangsters. Meet the Mercers, four foster brothers who have little else in common but a love for the woman who brought them together, because she just couldn't give them away.

Bobby Mercer (Wahlberg) calls all the shots. Tough, mean and very used to getting his own way, he's not about to be messed with, by the law or by the gangs who have taken control of his old neighbourhood. His brother Angel (Gibson) has the same tough exterior but deep down would rather live a quiet life. Then there's the seemingly cleaner living sensible one Jeremiah (Benjamin), only sometimes looks can be deceiving. And last but not least there's the baby of the family, Jack (Hedlund), a wannabe chain-smoking rock-star – far too kind at heart, but willing to do anything his older brothers tell him to.

Living separate lives for many years (serving jail terms, making new starts away from where they grew up and so on) the Mercers are back in town for one reason – retribution. When their mother Evelyn (Flanagan) is shot in a convenience store hold-up, the boys smell a rat, and decide that justice may never be served unless they take matters into their own hands, especially with police officers Green (Howard) and Fowler (Charles) on the case.

The Mercer brothers' quest to find the truth, exact some kind of rough justice and move on with their lives is a complicated business, mostly a matter of threatening the right people, carrying around as many weapons as possible and living the lives of brothers in the 'hood, bent on revenge. Tackling the might of gang boss Victor Sweet (Ejiofor) and weeding out the corrupt cops who are stalling the investigation into their mother's death, the Mercers will set as many people alight, and fire their machine guns as often as is necessary, to get the results they want.

As brothers the characters knit well together, with Wahlberg solidly leading the pack and Hedlund also standing out in the role of younger brother Jack, who bears the brunt of most of the jokes. At times feeling a little over the top, 'Four Brothers' rescues itself by injecting staggering moments of tragedy into the humorously violent antics of the brothers. The flashback scenes involving their mother, while delving into the characters played by the leading men, feel somewhat unnecessary, perhaps adding a mawkish element that need not have entered the frame. Although, for her part, Fionnula Flanagan plays the nicer than nice, tough-loving, sickly-sweet talking, mother quite well. But as the four brothers are forced to confront the reality of their mother's death, and also made to pay the price for taking the law into their own hands, we see some quite sad moments in the movie, moving even.

On the whole 'Four Brothers' is worth a watch. You'll laugh, probably root for one or more of the characters, and despite the inevitability of the ending, you'll probably feel that this one keeps the balance quite well, in that it doesn't try to be too slick or too clever. With a lively soundtrack, some very decent acting and a storyline that rambles along nicely, you could do far worse than spend a couple of hours in the company of these odd siblings.

Linda McGee