It’s been 10 years since the events of Kidulthood, and Sam Peel (Noel Clarke), now a reformed family man, is trying to live life day to day, providing for his family and keeping out of trouble.
• Director: Noel Clarke
• Exhibition: Blu-Ray
• Rating: 15
• Run Time: 105 minutes (plus extras)
But when his brother is shot while performing at a local club and a letter is left behind for Sam, he finds himself being pulled back into the life he left behind by a man known only as Hugs, which is probably the cutest name I’ve ever seen for a bad guy.
Of course there’s someone even more ‘menacing’ behind the scenes, and when a shadow from his past promises to destroy everything Sam has worked so hard to build, he has to choose between losing it all, or return to his old ways to protect his loved ones, and probably lose it all anyway. It’s the Sophie’s Choice of lazy plot development, and unfortunately, this is about as in depth as the plot goes.
Brotherhood is a movie that didn’t need to be made. Kidulthood was a master piece when it was first released. Giving an almost candid look into the day in the life of the London’s working class street culture that had never been seen before.
The no holds barred storytelling was as at times uncomfortable viewing, but it was hard not to believe that this life was something writer/director Noel Clarke had lived. It was England’s Boyz n the Hood, and it was this movie that rightly sky rocketed Clarke’s career.
One of the strengths of Kidulthood was the fact that Sam Peel was such a hateful character. It’s easy for writer/directors to portray lovable characters in the movies they make – Kevin Smith made a career out of it – but putting yourself into a position where you know you will be hated is something else entirely.
This point is completely lost in Brotherhood as Clarke throws himself into the role of anti-hero in such a masturbatory manor you’d be mistaken for thinking this was a Vin Diesel movie.
Brotherhood is plagued by bad pacing and the story becomes confused with where it wants to go on more than one occasion, struggling with the decision to be a hardcore revenge movie, a family drama, or a comedy.
The inclusion of several genuinely funny moments (intentional or otherwise), and scenes that are meant to act as a respite to the emotional onslaught we’re supposed to be experiencing only serves to make the overall tone of the movie feel completely disjointed.
The gritty realism of Kidulthood is nowhere to be found here, and the sheer amount of gratuitous nudity on display in Brotherhood only serves to show the movies desperation to be regarded as edgy and earn itself a ‘high’ BBFC rating.
The hammy plot could be forgiven if the acting was anything special, but unfortunately that too has taken a swan dive in the quality department.
Clarke himself is at the weakest he’s been for a while. Playing a rude boy trying to be a good boy being forced back to being a rude boy seems to confuse him greatly, and any emotional moments are completely lost as he acts out anguish with the intensity of a man trying to remember where he left his car keys.
Not everyone is bad, however. Arnold Oceng is brilliant as the comic relief, Henry, a role he plays it so endearingly it’s impossible not to enjoy. He’s also one of the few characters who can actually act.
One scene in particular involving UK grime star Stormzy is the emotional turning point of the movie, which shouldn’t really be the case as he’s a supporting character, and you’d think the movies big moment would fall on Sam, but his acting is so powerful he steals the show.
Stormzy, too, is great in the few scenes he’s in. Standing at roughly 15ft tall he absolutely dominates anyone he’s in a scene with. His laid back real world demeanour oozes into his acting, and he comes across as far more natural than anyone else on camera in a performance that echoes the quality of the quality of Kidulthood, and I’d love to see him flex his acting chops in more roles in the future.
The Blu-Ray comes with some bonus features that are actually quite good. There’s an hour long making of documentary that takes an in depth look behind the scenes at the cast and crew, and their passion and belief for the movie almost made me feel bad for having such a negative view of it.
There are also a handful of deleted scenes, one of which I feel should have been kept in the movie as it added a layer of emotional depth that was missing from Sam’s character, and another explains why there are naked women just standing round, although the reasoning just makes the movie seem even more like a teenage boy’s alone time fantasy.
There are a couple music videos too, but you’ll probably find them on YouTube so they’re really not worth buying the Blu-Ray for.
It’s difficult to think of anything nice to say about the film as a whole. It’s clear that everyone involved cared a great deal for Brotherhood, which makes the fact it’s rubbish all the more grating.
I was genuinely excited to see how the Hood trilogy was going to end, and sadly it went out with a fizzle instead of a bang. This is not the ending this trilogy deserved.