You know those thrillers where the bad guys talks a lot? Too much? Like, constantly?
Hate those. And that’s what “Blood Brother” is.
That’s Jack Kesy’s character, the psychopathic ex-con Jake, in a nutshell — once a “blood brother” to his fellow teen hoodlum Sonny (Trey Songz), now an ex-con, just freed from prison all set up to live on the take from an armored car robbery he and his mates stumbled into as teens.
He’s got cash. He’s done his time, and really, 15 years for committing his first murder, as a teen? He got off easy.
But Jake is back to take out the guys in his teen gang, a man with “demons” determined that his “blood brother” Sonny go “through hell” just as he has. And while he’s at it, he’s going to talk. And talk. And amble. And saunter. Because this IS New Orleans, after all.
“You’re LOSING me, Jake!”
Yes, you are.
What might have been a lean little crime-spree thriller of the “This time’s it’s PERSONAL” variety is talked and (slowly) walked to death.
I rather liked writer-turned-director John Pogue’s “The Quiet Ones.” That must have been due to Oren Moverman’s script. Or maybe it was the Triumph TR6 that played into the period piece’s plot that stuck with me (used to own one).
In any event, that wasn’t a movie that had much in the line of pace to recommend it, and while Pogue’s writing credits (“U.S. Marshals,” the “Rollerball” remake) moved along, “Blood Brother” does not.
Too many pauses for delivering a pithy observation.
“Thought I had friends I could rely on,” Jakes growls.
“On these streets, all you’ve got is the guy next to you. And if they guy next to you wants to take you straight to Hell, you just ask, ‘When do we leave?'” the hero, Sonny, narrates.
It’s so slow of foot that when Sonny, who has to cover up his involvement in that long-ago heist from his partner (Joy Lofton), he doesn’t ask for minutes or hours head-start. He wants a day, “tomorrow morning.” Because nobody, not even the cops in The Big Easy, feels much in the line of urgency.
Jake gets out of prison, goes home to his racist family and insults Sonny (who has shown up to drive him home) in ways that maybe Sonny ought to see this coming. He’s paid Jake back, he figures.
“Payback’s just getting started!”
The old gang gathers to split the cash. Everything seems hunky dory, despite the fact that Jake was the only one to do hard time. But Sonny lets Jake get in just close enough — to him, his ex-wife (Tanee McCall) and the ex-wife’s sister Darcy (China Anne McClain) — to drop the hammer on him.
Let the killing spree begin. Let Jake steal Sonny’s vintage Buick Skylark (Again with the classic cars?). But let Jake take a break from the throat slashing and shooting to play a game of pickup basketball. Just to impress Darcy, you understand.
“You don’t know me,” she flirts.
“That could change,” he promises, shrugging off the “little mistake” that put him in the joint.
With all this yacking between gritty New Orleans locations (hints of an accent pop out, here and there), the odd solid line emerges.
To Sonny’s partner — “You L, G B or T?”
To Sonny, sorely tested by Jake’s mayhem — “You in Hell yet?”
To Sonny again, when what looks like the final showdown is going down “in the club.”
“You didn’t come up in this butcher shop like a dumb little lamb chop, didya?”
Songz, seen in “Baggage Claim” and “Preacher’s Kid,” is still more of a singer than an actor. Solid presence, but Fetty Wap, who has a cameo as a gang leader, suggests more menace.
Ex-child star McClain fails to get across any sense of the terror that is supposed to hit her character when she realizes letting an ex-con flirt with you has dire consequences.
But Kesy is scary and a bit crazy-eyed, wearing his tats and a grill and carrying himself like a rough customer fresh out of stir.
It’s a pity he has to talk so much.
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language throughout, some drug use and sexual content
Cast: Trey Songz, Jack Kesy, China Anne McClain, Chelle Ramos, Tanee McCall, Ron Killings, Fetty Wap
Credits: Directed by John Pogue, script by Michael Finch, Karl Gajdusek Charles Murray. A Lionsgate/WWE release.
Running time: 1:26