Lionsgate // 2012 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // January 31st, 2013
Life doesn't always give you a practice track.
Acts of utter stupidity drive the narrative of Nick Parada's Bro', a lightweight The Fast and the Furious clone that substitutes muscle cars for motocross, and throws in a lot more hard drug use.
When the clean cut Johnny (Will Chavez) falls in with Jesse (Beau Manley), the brother of his girlfriend (Rebekah Grag), he finds himself thrown into the world of motocross, and the hard-partying lifestyle that goes along with it. As he earns Jesse's trust, Johnny is introduced to something far darker that forces him to question how far he is prepared to go to achieve a sense of belonging.
The main problem with Bro' -- apart from its mediocre script and uninspired direction -- is that the character of Johnny is a complete and utter tool, and it becomes increasingly frustrating having to watch him throw away everything good he has going for him. Perhaps if he had sufficient motivation for diving head first into a life of drugs and crime it might have been in some way understandable, but this simply isn't the case. With a great girl on his arm -- who is clearly out of his league -- a decent job, and a supportive mother, Johnny has things made. And yet, for no other reason than his girlfriend not being ready to sleep with him (and being ribbed for getting no "pussy" by her stoner brother), he goes completely off the rails. The world Johnny is introduced to by Jesse is (for me at least) utterly repugnant. Women (who are referred to almost exclusively as "bitches") are treated as a commodity, and passed around at parties for the sexual gratification of menfolk. This is a world where hard drug use is the norm, as is affiliation with one gang or another. When Jesse reveals his criminal activities, Johnny inevitably joins him and eventually hooks up with a minor.
Had there been some hint at a darker side to Johnny earlier in the film, such indiscretions may have been justifiable, but as things stand there is not enough effort put into Johnny's downfall to make his descent engrossing or his attempts at redemption sympathetic. Likewise the character of Jesse is nowhere near enigmatic enough to make his cult-like status believable. It should be stressed that Parada makes it clear that the path Johnny and Jesse take is wrong, but it's also hard to argue that he does, on occasion, come close to glamorizing it.
Although Danny Trejo (Machete) gets top billing, he only appears in a couple of scenes, with his screen time limited to no more than five minutes. This is obviously a disappointment, as none of the other cast members come close to matching Trejo is terms of sheer presence. Some of the younger performers struggle to deliver convincing performances, although Alexandra Mason does do some good work as the broken Danielle.
Lionsgate's DVD release of Bro' far exceeds the quality of the film itself. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is sharp, with an excellent level of detail. The 5.1 soundtrack is unspectacular, but does its job well enough. The extras on the disc kick off with a commentary track in which director Nick Parada is joined by members of the cast. Sadly the track never really flows, and suffers from long stretches of silence, meaning only fans of the film will really find any worth in it. The behind-the-scenes featurette and deleted scenes gallery are standard fare, while Colin "Scummy" Morrison fronts a "How To Ride Moto-X" featurette.
Ultimately, Bro' is a film with few redeeming features, lacking characters we can empathize with, while being nowhere near as cool as it thinks it is. Though I cannot say that I was ever completely bored while watching it, I'm certainly not going to recommend you head out and buy it. Perhaps if you're stuck for a rental, or it pops up on your movie streaming service of choice and you're in an undemanding mood, it may be worth consideration, but otherwise avoid.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes