Reel Toronto: Four Brothers
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Reel Toronto: Four Brothers

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
As a film location, Toronto’s bread and butter can easily be summed up: generic thrillers and TV movies. Heartwarming tales of the human spirit (like Good Will Hunting), or true-blue blockbusters (like The Incredible Hulk) are merely exceptions that prove the rule.
John Singleton broke big when he did Boyz n the Hood, an authentic tale of life on the LA streets. So, it’s no surprise that when he shot a gritty, Detroit-set “urban western,” his desire for authenticity lead him to…Toronto.

What’s the deal here? Oh, some woman gets killed and her four adopted sons (all bad-asses, but with no more in common than the carefully delineated cast of Friends) set out to avenge her. Will blood be spilled? Will guns be shot? Will scenery get chewed? Hell, yeah.
You can’t make generic thrillers without a generic tough guy. Enter Marky Mark, star of The Big Hit, Max Payne and who knows how many other unmemorable, Toronto-shot action flicks. Heck, we might just be inspired to declare March “Marky Mark Movie Month” here at Reel Toronto!

Marky’s in the lead so y’all better grin and bear it.

Oh, and we should let you know that, as a matter of policy, we’re going to call Wahlberg “Marky Mark.” We’re doing this because it’s funny that the Oscar nominee once sold underwear and “rapped” with a group called the Funky Bunch—that’s obvious. Also, we’re guessing he doesn’t read Torontoist and thus we’re safe from any possible beatings.
Where were we? Right, well, it’s actually a pretty mean cast. Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard have both starred in Hustle & Flow and scored Oscar noms since, Chiwetel Ejiofor is consistently awesome, and mommy Fionnula Flanagan plays Mrs. Hawking on Lost. Not bad.

You don’t need darkness to make Hamilton look like burned-out Detroit, but it helps.

Toronto not being sufficiently grungy, the shoot decamped to Hamilton for some scenes, including mom’s convenience store, seen here and above.

Marky’s hizzizz.

Maybe a native Steeltowner knows precisely where in the city’s north end the brothers’ house was. Sadly, it burned down after the shoot, IMDB says. (It also mentions that the production, in early 2004, didn’t have a single day where the temperature was above freezing.)

Kenneth Welsh shows the Americans how it’s done.

Our own beloved thesp, Kenneth Welsh, has a bit part as a lawyer. Here, here’s meeting the boys (boyz?) in his office, located at the fashionable Design Exchange (or “DX” for those in the know).

Living large in tony Toronto.

He’s accosted later at his residence up in Forest Hill.

Is this kind of thing a source of pride for Regent Park residents?

As in Narc, which also took place in Detroit, Regent Park does a turn as a Motor City housing project.

No set dressing here: it’s a real dive bar.

You can’t make a movie like this without a few bars, and the location scouts hit some fine joints, indeed. This grungy dive, for example, is Spadina Avenue’s Grossman’s Tavern. It’s your go-to place for great blues and shifty fellow audience members.

Cue up a scene for the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern.

This game of pool, on the other hand, takes place in the front room of the Horseshoe Tavern, in all its tile-floored glory.

Marky brings it on the screen, on the court—wherever and whenever, yo.

Marky Mark busts out the b-ball in this gym, located at the since-closed Bathurst Heights Secondary School.

You too can have a plot in the cemetery where Tom Cruise and Marky Mark shot fake funeral scenes.

Many a random funeral scene, in films like Cocktail, was shot here, at St. John’s Norway Cemetery out on Kingston Road.
Other scenes were shot in southern Etobicoke, West Hill, and the Junction Gardens, so don’t feel left out! Marky Mark turns out to be a Reel Toronto gold mine, so we hope to bring you more soon.