Nothing ruins an action-thriller faster than predictability. Blood Brother, the latest offering from WWE Studios, utilizes every cliche in the filmmaker’s handbook to create a story so familiar viewers will be able to predict the end before the title card even appears.
Rapper turned actor Trey Songz stars as Sonny, a former rebellious youth has grown up to be a good cop in a bad neighborhood. His motivations for doing so stem from a heist gone awry that he and his friends pulled as teenagers. Everyone involved has done their best to leave their bad behavior in the past except Sonny’ friend Jake (Jack Kesy), who has spent the previous fifteen years living life behind prison bars for that exact crime.
On the day of his release, Sonny does his best to make amends to Jake by offering him the money made off the heist. Nearly every dollar taken, around three-million in cash, has been kept hidden by Sonny and his friends for Jake’s return. The exchange appears to squash any lingering grudges, but that soon proves false when Jake starts committing crimes the following day. It seems Sonny has been holding out on Jake, so Jake begins working to ensure Sonny loses everything important to him.
Any readers capable of making it this far in my review are no doubt able to guess where Blood Brother goes from here. Sonny chases Jakes, but cannot bring himself to hurt Jake. Meanwhile, Jake commits increasingly awful crimes, all while mocking Sonny’s personal code. It’s good versus evil, Batman versus The Joker, or literally any story where former friends face off on opposite sides of the law. You’ve seen it before, likely more than once, and nothing new is brought to the table.
Blood Brother also suffers from weak dialogue that feels lifted from a police procedural that didn’t get picked up for a second season. In one sequence, when Sonny’s partner asks about his history with Jake, he pleads with her to buy him some time to deal with his former friend alone. “How much do I wanna know,” she asks. “It’s way worse than anything we’ve been through before,” he replies.
That kind of tired dialogue appears throughout the film. It’s the kind of egregiously lazy decision making that could almost be forgiven if the film were intentionally trying to channel a style or aesthetic from years past, but Blood Brother doesn’t feel like that kind of movie. It yearns to connect with the world today desperately, yet it attempts to do so without making a single comment on life or the place where the characters hail from. In fact, it doesn’t have anything to say at all.
The one saving grace is Trey Songz, who hasn’t been in headlining films long enough to drop his stage name. Songz only previous leading role was in 2013’s woefully misguided Texas Chainsaw 3D, which gave him little to work with, even compared to Blood Brother. As Sonny, the actor is given the opportunity to do a bit of everything, from handling family drama to conveying the unwavering confidence of a b-level action star, and he rises to the occasion throughout. His work here will inevitably lead to more roles. My only hope is that those parts exist within films worthy of our time.