Brotherhood full movie review - Over-The-Top Spit at Continuity and Realism
I'm a big fan of the other two "Hood" movies; Kidulthood and Adulthood.
While they were undoubtedly badly made movies with awful acting and some questionable choices of direction (particularly Kidulthood), they both shared enthralling stories that accurately portrayed what life in Britain is like growing up. Argue that last point as much as you like, but even though I lived in a village growing up, and was never considered a chav, the portrayals of characters, particularly in Kidulthood were so real and relatable to my school experiences. Brotherhood is nothing of the kind, despite being the most technically well-made and polished movie of the trilogy.
I figured going in that Brotherhood would be, at best, another relatable tale to where I am in life, and it's true that a lot of the ingredients are there. Everyone's grown up, moved out, gotten married, and have kids of their own. That's where I am. But alarm bells started ringing when the movie opened with a complete disregard for the series' continuity. I know it's been ten years since Adulthood (narratively), and I know it's a small world out there, but Sam being married to Moony's uni girlfriend was a bit too much of a coincidence to swallow. Even harder to swallow, despite the ten year gap, is Alissa and Sam being not only on good terms, but welcoming and friendly terms like the past was just something to laugh at.
So what could Brotherhood possibly be about? I'll give you a clue, it's got nothing to do with brothers. No, I don't get it either. Once again, Sam is pursued by someone who wants him dead. Spoilers; it's that Jamaican gangster Curtis again. Except this time he's not in charge, and so instead there's an over-elaborate plot to get at Sam's family. There's a shooting at a club (because apparently this is America), and a note with an address on the back, to which Sam quite rightly inquires "Why would I go to a strange address?" They also employ a foreign woman to get at Kayla and Sam's mother for no other reason than why not.
Adulthood was a great look at Sam's redemption, eschewing violence in favour of the search for a more peaceful existence. Sam gets rid of Curtis via tip-offs and police raids, and talks Jay down, persuading him not to ruin his own life in the name of vengeance. While Sam has grown out of the street slang, he doesn't seem to have kept his restraint on violence, kicking and punching his way out of every tight spot he gets into. Of course the police don't like this kind of ruckus, but they let him off because they're old friends, just like the random takeaway owner who joins Sam's ragtag group of masked vigilantes.
I'll give it to Brotherhood though, the quality of acting is a vast improvement. That's not really saying a lot as the acting quality of both Kidulthood and Adulthood was god- awful. At least in Brotherhood the actors bring more believable performances and don't completely ham it up. Even Red Madrell proves what eight years of experience can do, despite her abysmally small amount of screen time considering she's a crucial character to the trilogy's core narrative. All the new members of the cast are quite enjoyable to watch, including Leeshon Alexander as Hugs (he likes to hug people as he stabs them), Tonia Sotiropoulou as the exotic bait who found herself in deeper than she ever wanted to be, and even Stormzy has one of the younger troupe of henchmen. But of course, this is Noel Clarke's movie, and he places himself front and centre. It's not his best performance, not even his most memorable turn as Sam, but it's good enough to keep the movie hurtling towards it's inevitable, predictable conclusion.
Another plus in Brotherhood's favour is the comedy. Kidulthood and Adulthood had their tiny, almost satirical moments, but they were altogether very serious affairs. Brotherhood tries to keep the serious tone intact, but also offers some light- heartedness from Henry, who is the comic relief of the whole movie. His lies to his wife about irresistible shopping deals were good fun I will admit, and were what I found most enjoyable about the whole movie.
I didn't have high hopes for Brotherhood, but it didn't even meet them. While it marks an improvement on a technical basis, particularly on the acting front, it falls way behind in the story department. It's over-the-top, cartoony, nonsensical, and has little regard for continuity. It tried to explore what could've been a very interesting time in these character's lives, but instead it chose to shift tone entirely to it's detriment, and cut out (maybe unavoidably) crucial characters. Sorry Noel, you should've just left it at Adulthood. That's all the closure the series ever needed. I give Brotherhood an unsatisfactory 5/10.