I collected all the music from the Брат 2 soundtrack as well as other songs that appear in the movie. You can listen to them all on this Russian Film Hub Brat 2 soundtrack page.
The first Brother (go to its Russian Film Hub page here) will always be my favorite. But Brother 2 is still a really interesting movie that’s worth watching. Let me tell you why.
Brother 2 has a rough-hewn charm that’s rare to find in cinema these days. Unfortunately, the movie’s charm is sometimes mistaken for poor filmmaking, given its clumsy transitions and cuts. Really, though, focusing on the plot of the film, it’s hard to find another movie that so accurately depicts its era.
Released in 2000, Brother 2 portrays the lack of opportunity and soul searching that Russia was going through during the 1990s. Post-Soviet Russia was poor and grim. Once the communist system fell apart, there was no immediate replacement, and so criminals took over much of the Russian economy.
Enter the film’s hero, Danila, a normal-looking antihero who happens to have special forces training. A simple man with deeply held beliefs in what is right and wrong, he is a symbol for Russians that a new way of being Russian is possible.
In many ways, Danila’s journey to the US in Brother 2 depicts a Russian national awakening. For much of the 1990s, many Russians held in their heads a naive image of perfection of the USA. In Brother 2, however, that the US has many shortcomings is abundantly clear.
In the streets of Chicago where the film takes place, racial tensions and ghettoized communities are on clear display. A Chicago policeman drops the n-word, revealing his contempt for black Americans. Meanwhile, the black community Danila spends time in is rife with crime and poverty.
In the fancier part of town American businessmen are shown to be capable of just as corrupt and criminal activities as their Russian counterparts. We even discover that the businessman whom Danila has come to America to hunt is involved in the distribution of snuff and rape movies.
On a more everyday level, Brother 2 also describes normal life as hard for many Americans in the same way it is for Russians. Two struggling taxi drivers in Moscow and New York seem to be almost identical in their worries and complaints about life.
Beyond revealing that the US is not perfect, Brother 2 also tries to set up a distinct view of what it means to be Russian. And, to be clear, this was not something existed in the first Brother movie.
Danila is righteous character, capable of standing above the weak virtues of his enemies. It’s clear that Danila is supposed to portray Russia’s purest qualities. A big contrast between him and most Americans, including Russians in America, is how he is not drunk with lust for money. Even the hockey-playing twin brother of Danila’s murdered friend is shown to have been corrupted. When Danila returns the $900,000 that was stolen out of his hockey pay checks, he complains that he wasn’t compensated with interest on that huge sum. That his brother is dead appears to be irrelevant in comparison.
Another way in which the film depicts a new Russian identity is its portrayal of being Russian as distinct and separate from being Soviet. A clear case of this is how Danila and his vrother, Viktor, are frequently at odds with Ukrainians, a people that were considered indistinguishable from Russians by Soviet authorities. For example, Viktor at one point shouts at some Ukrainian gangsters, “You bitches will answer to me for Sevastopol!” Come to think of it, it might be because of that line that Ukraine officially banned the movie.
The film starts in Moscow, where our antihero, Danila (Sergei Bodrov Jr.), is being interviewed on TV with two of his old friends from military service. One of them is Ilya Setevoy (played by Kirill Pirogov) and the other is Konstantin Gromov (played by Aleksandr Dyachenko).
While the three friends are at the bathhouse, Konstantin shares that his brother, Dmitry, who plays in the National Hockey League, is being taken advantage of by a corrupt American businessman. That American, Richard Mennis, is doing business with Konstantin’s boss, Dmitry Gromov.
The next day, Konstantin asks Gromov help him stop Mennis from defrauding his brother. However, soon thereafter, Konstantin is murdered.
Knowing that foul play is afoot, Danila and Ilya plan to exact revenge. While they’re making plans, Danila’s older brother, Viktor, shows up in Moscow. He’s looking for help from Danila, just like Danila sought help from him in the first Брат movie.
So now Danila, Viktor, and Ilya make moves to avenge Konstantin. They first interrogate Gromov, who tells them that it’s the American, Mennis, who ordered Konstantin’s death. As it turns out, though, it was Gromov who made it happen. And so, Gromov puts his men on the job to finish off Danila, Viktor, and Ilya. The trio end up killing or outsmarting Gromov’s men, however, and soon Danila and Viktor fly out to America to go after Mennis.
Danila and Viktor fly separately, the former to New York, the later to Chicago. Though they both need to be in Chicago to get to Mennis all the same.
Danila’s journey from New York to Chicago provides my favorite sequence in the movie. After buying a shoddy car from a Russian in Brighton Beach, New York, he breaks down on the highway soon after leaving New York. Thankfully, though, a kind trucker named Ben gives him a ride. And together Ben and Danila have a blast. They listen to Russian rock music while driving, Ben takes him to some roadside museum, Danila is cheered on by a restaurant for eating a giant burger, and the two of them knock back beers together in a motel room.
Once he’s made it to Chicago, Danila’s time gets less fun-filled. He meets a Russian prostitute, Marylin, and soon gets beaten up by her pimp. He also gets hit by a car. Eventually, he frees Marylin from her situation by killing her pimp and all his retinue.
Once Danila has freed Marylin, he meets up with Viktor, who it seems has been having a grand time in Chicago. The three of them then set out to get to Mennis and his mob.
The first thing Danila does is kill all of Mennis’s cronies in Club Metro, where their underground headquarters is. Then, the next day, he climbs all the way up a skyscraper fire escape to break into Mennis’s office. After everyone on the floor except Mennis, Danila orders that he return all the money he stole from Konstantin’s brother, Dmitry the hockey player.
The film wraps up with Danila, Viktor, and Marylin each getting what they ultimately want. Danila returns Dmitry the money that was stolen from him. Viktor, after killing everyone inside the Ukrainian mafia’s headquarters, is arrested by the Chicago police, fulfilling his desire to stay in America. And Marilyn flies back to Russia with Danila.