Movie Review: Brothers (2015)

Brothers1 Star (out of 4)

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Among screenwriting jobs, Brothers: Blood Against Blood should be as easy as it gets. The movie is an official remake of Warrior, a great Hollywood film by Gavin O’Connor. Translate the dialogue, relocate the action, cast some Bollywood stars, and boom, you’re done. So why is Brothers so bad?

Warrior is superbly written. Every character has clear motivation and a goal in every scene. Background information is doled out efficiently. The plot is brisk.

For some reason, director Karan Malhotra and his screenplay adapter/wife, Ekta Pathak Malhotra, abandoned the original film’s efficiency in favor of overly long melodrama. The characters in Brothers are left adrift. We know too much about their history, but nothing about what they want right now.

Former alcoholic Gary Fernandez (Jackie Shroff) emerges from prison sober but unhinged. His son, Monty (Sidharth Malhotra, no relation to the director), brings his father home, watching as the broken old man sees the ghost of his dead wife Maria (Shefali Shah) in every corner. Gary wants to know why his other son, David (Akshay Kumar), hasn’t come to meet him.

David is a high school physics teacher, burdened by the cost of his daughter’s dialysis. He earns some cash in an illegal street fight, but his bruises cost him his job. David’s wife, Jenny (Jacqueline Fernandez), worries about the danger of his return to the ring, but he can’t resist the allure of fighting in India’s first televised mixed martial arts tournament, Right 2 Fight (R2F). Neither can Monty.

Most of the copious flashbacks in Brothers are time-wasters (really, we need to see David and Jenny falling in love?). The only useful one explains why the brothers are estranged. Monty is Gary’s son from an affair, and David blames his younger half-brother for destroying his family. Maria makes is clear that she loves Monty as much as her biological son, but David doesn’t care.

The single biggest problem in Brothers is that the Malhotras think that David is a hero. Having a sick kid may make him sympathetic, but it doesn’t automatically mean he’s a good person. During a match at R2F, David is so enraged that he continues to pummel an unconscious opponent, even as his physics students watch on television. (Gary is proud of him for this. What a guy.) David is the one who turned his back on his little brother, and he apparently never tried to reach out to Monty in the years since.

It’s not clear how Monty spent the decades that his father was incarcerated. When he starts his fighting career, he’s terrible, and he doesn’t decide to pursue it seriously until halfway through the movie. There’s a hint that, because Gary is a former fighter, Monty fights to gain his father’s approval, but that storyline goes nowhere.

Sidharth provides no help in elucidating his character’s motivation because he has only two emotions: sad and bewildered. When Monty isn’t moping, he’s flinching from the bright lights of the arena, as though he’s a defrosted caveman fearfully trying to comprehend the modern world.

spideyPictured Above: Sidharth’s acting coach for Brothers?

Akshay is a trained martial artist, but his salt-and-pepper beard makes him look too old to play a competitive fighter. It looks like Sidharth is fighting his dad while his grandpa, Jackie Shroff, watches. David’s a bad enough guy as is, and Akshay doesn’t do anything to make him more likable.

The two women in the cast — Jacqueline and Shefali — give the strongest performances, but they cry in every one of their scenes. The excess of melodrama peaks when David looks at his battered brother in the ring and hallucinates Monty as a smiling little boy. It’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Another bit of unintentional — but totally predictable — comedy in Brothers: David’s daughter is called “Poopoo.” The ladies in the theater with me hooted every time someone said her name.

Nothing happens quickly in Brothers. Something as simple as a character walking into the arena takes several minutes. An inordinate amount of time is devoted to the R2F promoter, who has nothing to do with the main story. There’s a lengthy item number featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan dancing in a Benihana, intercut with scenes of David training, for who knows what reason.

Brothers isn’t bad in comparison to Warrior, it’s just bad. Why would anyone watch this when they could just rent Warrior?


41 thoughts on “Movie Review: Brothers (2015)

  1. moviemavengal

    I demand reaction GIF’s in every review now!! I had a very bad feeling about this one. Your review is too funny.

    1. Kathy

      Thanks, Mel! I’ll do my best to accommodate you in the future. That’s from “Italian Spiderman,” in case you were wondering.

  2. Paul

    Thanks for the warning Kathy. After watching the trailer, which they showed very heavily before every film I’ve seen for weeks, I’d already decided I didn’t fancy it much as it just seemed too violent. I can cope with a bit of violence, but all that hatred isn’t good. We ended up going to see Absolutely Anything with Simon Pegg, but the cinema was full with people going to see one of the several Bollywood or Lollywood films that are on at the moment. I reckon most will have been off to see Brothers, although the families with young kids must have been off to see ‘Karachi to Lahore’ as Brothers is a 15 over here in the UK I think. Or maybe they’re still flooding in to see Bajrangi BhaijaanI as that’s still on. I was thinking of going to see ‘Karachi to Lahore’ myself tomorrow, but the reviews aren’t too good so maybe not.

    1. Kathy

      Simon Pegg is always a good bet, Paul. 🙂 Brothers is really violent, so the 15+ rating makes sense. The original film is violent, too, but you get more of a sense of the pain fueling Tom Hardy’s character (who was totally neutered when they cast Sidharth in the same role in Brothers).

  3. JustMeMike

    I saw the trailer and checked the schedule – Brothers is playing in Tampa. Should I make the trip to see a mixed martial arts film. Probably not since I barely watch the televised UFC fights. But the final decision would be riding on your review.

    Thanks for saving me the trip.

    Maybe I’ll devote the saved time to finishing the Bajrangi review. Actually that film was quite entertaining, considering that I almost never see a Saman Khan film.

    1. Kathy

      That’s a better use of your time, Mike. While I didn’t want to spend the whole review comparing the two versions, I’ll note again that, if you’ve seen Warrior, you don’t need to see Brothers. There is nothing about the remake that improves on the original, and the remake is just independently bad.

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  5. Ehinome Okojie

    It should post above 115cr in India, seems to be getting mixed-positive audience response and mixed-negative critics response. Some think a WWE setting is better for this kind of movie, Like Karan Malhotra’s style of storytelling except for his sometimes pointless use of violence.

    1. Kathy

      Yep. Negative reviews certainly don’t seem to be deterring the crowds in India, Ehinome. I’m curious to see how it fares in the US.

  6. Salim

    Hey Kathy,

    Is it that bad that its of one star value? I was really waiting for this from a long time. I loved warrior and thought this movie will also be as good as that. I’ve not seen it yet, I’ll be watching it on Thursday. Btw its not earning a lot here either. The only reason it reached to 50 crore weekend was the Independence Day holiday on Saturday. The Sunday drop was huge so the weekdays won’t be performing good. It might struggle to reach 100 crores in its lifetime run.

    BTW, I’ve got a question Kathy. In India, the best collection a movie gets is on Sunday and Friday and Saturday are also good always. So, in short the weekends are always better than weekdays. But when I checked the figures in the USA, the best figures are on Friday, Saturday and the Tuesdays. I totally understand that Friday and Saturdays are showing good growth but I just don’t understand why Tuesdays come out with a growth? N why does Sunday drop down after Saturdays?

    1. Kathy

      Do you have a link to where you got those Tuesday figures, Salim? I’m almost positive it’s not true. The weekend is where movies make their money here, as in India. Anecdotally, at least one theater near me offers extra discounts on Tuesdays (in addition to their already reduced weekday ticket prices) just to attract more business on their slowest day of the week.

      Speaking as someone else who loved Warrior, Brothers is a pale imitation of the original. The changes to the script and characters are majorly disappointing.

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  8. Salim

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear I didn’t mean that Tuesday is higher than Sundays. What I meant was there is a drop on Sundays when compared to Saturday. N Tues has a growth when compared to Monday and any other day of the weekdays.
    Below is the link for Bajrangi Bhaijan daily collections:

    what intrigues me is why there is a drop on Sunday when compared to Saturday as Sunday is a holiday too. n why there are jumps on Tuesdays when compared to Mondays

    1. Kathy

      Ok, I got ya, Salim. Sunday business is lower than Saturday here because the work week starts on Monday, and people don’t stay out as late watching films. It’s effectively a shorter day than Friday or Saturday. As for why Tuesdays earn more than Mondays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays, I’ll take it as a sign that those lower priced tickets really do work at bringing people into the theater. The discounts aren’t drastic, but everyone likes a bargain, so going on a Tuesday makes the most sense.

      Thanks for providing the link! It’s a really interesting chart for anyone interested in box office collections.

  9. Deepak C.

    Another week, another Akshay Kumar movie that never needs to be seen. Well done on including the gif with the review, Kathy – got a good laugh out of that.

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