Run Time: 1 hr 29 min
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 25%/59%
Proud Mary is Action & Adventure/Drama starring Taraji P. Henson as the title character, Mary. Mary is a bad ass hit woman for an organized crime syndicate that, after a less than successful job, finds herself battling with her morality and loyalty. This yet another masterpiece from the world renowned Screen Gems Studio, who blessed us with other movie classics such as: Obsessed, The Perfect Guy, When the Bough Breaks, and Think Like a Man 1&2. Initially going into this film I forgot this bit of information and I really wish I hadn’t because I would have certainly went into this film with the appropriate level of expectation….alas I did not.
When I first saw the trailer for this film I was super excited that there was finally a feature film being made with a Black woman starring as a hit woman/assassin. This is something I have wanted to see since seeing Vivica A. Foxx do her thang in Kill Bill as Black Mamba. Yea we saw Aaliyah as Jet Li’s trusty sidekick and Pam Grier beating down jive turkeys in Foxxy Brown. But we have not had the opportunity to have witnessed anything like Charlize Theron in whatever the name of that awful movie was or Zoe Saldana in Colombiana (I mean she’s Dominican/Puerto Rican and one of her parents is Afro-Latina or something…shit I don’t know…I digress) and I guess I should mention Halle Berry in Catwoman but I’d rather forget that abomination. So, I felt like it was beyond time for an African-American woman to grace the screen with some Bruce Lee type fighting scenes carrying guns bigger than her, damn near a femle John Wick. While I am not saying the trailers presented us with anything of that magnitude but my wish had finally come true in regards to an Action movie starring a Black woman….sort of. Oh and there was a nod to the Color Purple (which I doubt was intentional but it was dope for the culture none the less).
*sigh* I really hate to do this because I love Taraji so much as an actress but oh well!…Let’s get to it.
I now truly understand the old saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” after watching this film because it had so much potential but just did not do it for me. One of the main issues for me is that this film could not decide if it wanted to be an Action Adventure or Drama. Now I realize that those two genres can certainly coexist but that’s typically seen in war movies and this wasn’t a war movie on any level (although the word “war” was thrown around in the movie more than the card game of the same name). When a movie cannot commit to a particular genre, it can be a bit hard to gauge how I am supposed to feel about the characters, their motivations, or invest any emotion into the film. Unfortunately, this was my experience with Proud Mary. It had moments when it was trying to give me this feel good story that it half-ass set up in the opening scene and on the other hand it also wants us to experience this poorly contrived organized crime underworld that Mary belongs to in a way to make us to understand the bad ass-ery (if dancerie can be a word, so can ass-ery) of Mary? I don’t know what they were trying to convey but they missed me either way. Now had they made this a straight up, balls to the wall, Action Adventure or a run of the mill Drama, then they could have really had something. The potential was there but they really dropped the ball.
My next issue is hands down, THE SCORE/SOUNDTRACK. The musical choices in this film were just awful. The musical director was Fil Eisler, who has composed music for Empire and other television shows but not for any major motion picture and it showed. The music did not feel like it really followed a format at all. There were moments when popular Hip Hop and R&B songs were played and then the next you have symphonic composed pieces….bruh wtf?! The sound of a film is just as important as camera angles and lighting. If the music is off just the slightest it can give the audience mixed signals about what they should be experiencing. There was one particular scene in the movie where music was simply not needed because the dialogue between the actors was enough to create the proper amount of tension, however there was this God awful song playing (that was almost a bit too loud for the scene) and instead of helping build that drama/suspense, it made the whole scene cheesy and forced. I also understand the need to give certain characters a theme “song or melody”and for the character Danny they always played modern Hip Hop for his “theme” which felt as out of place in this movie as his entire story line (hmm….maybe that was the intent?) The worst part of all of this was when the actual song Proud Mary was played….I was so over it by that point and that moment in this film almost caused me to walk out of the theater. Come on son! We had to be that cliche?!!
The last thing I will discuss is the acting in general. Taraji P. Henson and even Billy Brown (Tom) did alright considering the script they had to work wtih but everyone else was just a mess. You had your stereotypical Eastern European gangster villian (who sounded very similar to Boris from Boris and Natasha) who just oversold the asshole with the heart of shit to painstaking lengths. Then there was the dry ass acting of Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Danny), who just gave me all kinds of overacting with a dash of inexperience. And the biggest disappointment of them all was the performance of Danny Glover. Now, while I wasn’t expecting an Oscar worthy performance from the man, I didn’t expect to leave the theater feeling like he gave a far superior performance in Death at a Funeral. I mean this is Danny freaking Glover and given the lackluster performance I saw, I would be confident in saying he did this film because he needed a cute little coin and that’s it.
Thank the Lord Black Panther is coming out in four weeks because Proud Mary was just another new age blaxploitation film that got thrown together and put into to theaters to waste peoples money. The budget for this film was an estimated $14,000,000 and although this film will probably finish opening weekend having made slightly over $12,000,000 at the box office (if it performs the same as opening night) they will certainly earn enough money from the movie to be motivated to continue making these types of shitty movies. Proud Mary was a disappointment and had they taken the time to actually give a damn about the quality of film they were putting out then this movie could have opened the door to all kinds of dopeness in the future. So, this sista gurl suggests you save your money and go check out something else, wait for this one to come on Netflix.