Wildly inconsistent characters and an overabundance of clichés ensure that Blood Brother never manages to make much of its promising setup.
Blood Brother is a film that is a little bit better than you’d think and a lot worse than it might have been. Any low budget genre flick starring Tremaine “Trey Songz” Neverson has its work cut out, obviously, but this thing really did feel like it was going to be about something – at least until it just decided that it wasn’t.
Neverson plays Sonny, a cop, and you’re never allowed to forget this because all his friends from back in the day say things like, “Because you’re a cop?” in response to virtually everything he says. But I suppose it makes sense, as back in the day Sonny and his friends were teenage tearaways who used to spray-paint the word “Demons” on walls. And at one point they nabbed $3 million from an armoured car and their nutcase white friend executed the only surviving witness and went to prison for fifteen years.
Now he’s back. His name is Jake and the grown-up version is played by Jack Kesy. For the last decade and a half the gang – which also includes Hassan Johnson and J.D. Williams, but don’t worry about those two – have been sitting on the loot, and it’s time to split it. This goes surprisingly diplomatically, all things considered. Everyone gets an equal share, but Sonny wants Jake to keep his – “Why? Because you’re a cop?” – since he’s such a nice guy and obviously feels some semblance of guilt over Jake’s incarceration. This whole setup, with its old friends and their fractured bond and their dark secret, is actually handled rather well. You get the sense Blood Brother might be going somewhere with it.
No such luck. You can tell by how the friendly reunion between Sonny and Jake is going a little too well. Jake wants to attend a music recital performed by Darcy (China Anne McClain), the pretty younger sister of Sonny’s estranged wife Megan (Tanee McCall), but on the way there they stop at a corner store and Jake just goes nuts and murders everyone. It’s supposed to be shocking and dramatic but it just plays out as confused. That Blood Brother settles on this character being a garden-variety maniac so early on just undermines any promises made by the screenplay – penned by Michael Finch, Karl Gajdusek, and Charles Murray – that the film would have something to say about these characters, their relationship, and their impoverished upbringing.
From there Blood Brother just becomes a contrived cat-and-mouse actioner, with Jake going on the run, charming and subsequently kidnapping Darcy, and weaving a weird trail through various underworld figures (including one played by Fetty Wap) to provide an excuse for mediocre standoffs and action beats. Along the way his character wavers back and forth between charismatic and deranged with no real warning or reason, and there are multiple instances in which both the hero and the villain have ample opportunity to kill each other and just don’t bother to. Any justifications given for this – “Because you’re a cop?” – are flimsy at best and woefully idiotic at worst.
I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’m certainly disappointed given the film’s early consideration for its characters and premise, and also the fact that the cast are serviceable and the direction is perfectly competent. It’s the writing that grossly undermines Blood Brother and ensures it remains a clichéd genre exercise with little about it worthy of note. Blood might by thicker than water, but Blood Brother is thicker than both.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.