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Honor Thy Brother takes a different turn in The Devil You Know
Boundaries and bonds are put to the test in a gritty crime-thriller drama about family, morality, and redemption. Omar Epps leads an impressive cast for writer/director Charles Murray’s latest The Devil You Know from Lionsgate. Once incarcerated, Marcus Cowans (Omar Epps) is trying to turn over a new leaf with the support of his loving family. His parents (Glynn Turman and Vanessa Bell Calloway) have moved past his prior mistakes. Boundaries and bonds are put to the test in this gritty crime-thriller drama about family, morality, and redemption.
While his other brothers, Terry (Vaughn W. Hebron), Mike (Curtiss Cook), and Drew (Will Catlett), are doing their best to support him. Marcus even has a new job lined up and a possible romance budding with (Erica Tazel). Just as things are looking up, Marcus discovers that Drew (Will Catlett) may have been involved in a horrific crime with local thugs Al (Theo Rossi) and Stacy (B.J. Britt). Increasingly wary of the justice system’s failings, Marcus grapples with the limits of brotherhood and loyalty as he ends up in the crosshairs of a seasoned but jaded detective (Michael Ealy) looking to solve the crime.
I didn’t get a chance to see the last two features that Mr. Murray directed. However, I was a massive fan of his 2013 debut, Things Never Said. In addition, I’ve always liked Murray’s writing style, particularly the work he did for the series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Luke Cage. Lastly, the supporting cast is full of melanin faces I am fans of from their previous work.
I was fond of the angle that Murray took with the introduction of his characters as it sets up the story’s motivation. Before introducing us to Marcus and his family, Murray briefly sets up the atmosphere for the crime before cutting away. We see a brief shot of the aftermath that brings Michael Ealy’s character into play before seeing Marcus in attendance at an AA meeting.
From the onset, it’s clear that Marcus is the family’s black sheep for sins of the past, yet his family isn’t overly judgmental. I was particularly fond of the script’s handling of the youngest brother and pastor in training Terry’s arc. Vaughn Hebron brings just the right amount of maturity to the role. Similarly, Curtiss Cook is always a joy to see on screen, so it was great to see him. While Glynn Turman and Vanessa Bell Calloway can read the phone book and sound good, I enjoyed seeing them.
However, the core of the film’s heart is in the internal struggle between the characters of Marcus and Drew. Epps and Catlett have the most scenes together of any two characters in the film, and in essence, I get the narrative structure that Murray is going for was that of Cain and Abel. The director takes his time with the story, which I feel was intentional as he wants to know just how far someone would go to protect their family. Watching the film, I think it brings us tons of ethics and morals for discussion.
I want to give potential viewers the heads up that the film is a slow burn. In addition, for fans of Michael Ealy, despite being featured prominently on the poster, Ealy has a small role here. While the ending wasn’t as clear-cut as I like for a film of this sort, I recommend the movie.
Final Grade: B
The Devil You Know is in theaters now
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