Happy MLK Day everyone. I wanted to bring you my thoughts on the movie Proud Mary a.k.a. one of Tina Turner’s best hits. Now I know most of you are asking one of the following questions: “This movie is out already?” or “I have never heard of it, what’s it about?”. These are fair questions. Do to the lack of exposure in advertisement, I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone knew about this movie until it was too late. I have seen the trailer on multiple movies and a poster here and there. The trailer itself didn’t really give much to the story, which I will get into later. First let me tell you about the movie you probably never heard of.
Taraji P. Henson, known to most people as Cookie Lyon on the hit drama “Empire” on Fox, plays a woman named Mary, naturally. She is a hit woman working for Benny (Danny Glover). Benny is a mob boss or drug lord with his own territory along with other rival crews looking to take over everything. Mary just happens to put a hit on a bookie who owed some money but unbeknownst to Mary, this man has a son and she refuses to kill a child. Fast Forward a year later and the child is working for one of the rival gangs against Benny. The kid is Danny, played by Jahi Di’Allo Winston, who did a great job I might add is not doing so well physically and mentally running around as an errand boy, Mary takes him in to take care of him as to make amends for her sins. This act causes her world and life to be altered as she now has to face the realization that she wants more out of life then the one she has been used to most of her life. Add a bunch of assassin like gun play, some catchy r&b soul tunes, and Henson’s “I’m not playing boy” attitude and you got yourself an action drama.
Personally, I enjoy watching Taraji P. Henson on the screen no matter if it’s on the big or small screen. It seems that this movie felt that she was the only thing needed to bring in people to the theatre. Sadly, it wasn’t enough. On top of that, this movie could have been more than what it was. First off, the story liked depth and development. You don’t know a thing about Mary’s background. The movie just throws you into her life as a successful hit woman who is living nice in her nice apt. and fast car. Not until close to the end of the movie when the stakes are high is when she has time to lay down a couple of sentences to say how she got into this business. The movie is called Proud Mary. I want to know more about Mary. Sucks we didn’t get it.
The family that she works for also includes Benny’s son Tom (Billy Brown), who most of you may recognize from another hit tv show “How to get away with Murder” as the Bull yet sensitive detective Nate. I thought he did a good job with his role but again, lack of character development with him and his family. Maybe that wasn’t the point of the film. The point of the film was the escalating relationship between Mary and Danny. These two had their ups and downs from the start but with both of them having much in common due to their upbringings their tough as nails personality clashes with each other as they try to find a balance to coexist and even become a nice pair fulfilling the void they both have in their lives. This partnership brought on most of the humor in the movie. With Danny and his foul mouth and Mary’s immediate mother instincts kicking in, it was entertaining watching them both.
For those who did see the trailer, it looked like a nice tease to a very action-packed film. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that as much as you would think. I certainly expected more than what I saw. I’ll blame that on the budget of $14,000,000 (estimated) according to IMBD.com or production. With a lot of female driven action films out there, there really wasn’t an excuse as to why Mary didn’t kick some ass more then what was given to us. Now don’t get me wrong, she did a fair share and when she did, it was pretty good. There just wasn’t much of it. A lot of it was gun play vs hand to hand combat. I am not worried about Henson performing. I am very grateful that Henson was given this role and the chance to show she can stomp with the big dogs as an action heroine. Her acting chops are not to be questioned in the slightest as she has proven time and time again how well she can get anyone invested in the role she takes on. I just wish they had brought in more of that action that most people wanted to see if she can pull off. At the end of the day, the lack of action scenes in this movie didn’t really make this film stand out as original as it could have been. The story we have all seen before. If anyone is familiar with the movie Gloria, whether it’s the 1980’s version with Gena Rowlands or the remake of the same name with Sharon Stone in 1999. The difference between those movies and Proud Mary is that Danny while still young and naïve was a tough little kid and hustled his way to keep himself alive the best way he could. Danny held his own.
This movie would connect more to the Black and urban community but that doesn’t mean that they are the only audience for this film. If you prefer a story ahead of over the top action. This movie can provide a nice 90 min entertainment for you. Does it need the theatre quality of the big screen, I would say no. Is it worth watching at all? That would depend on your taste. There were moments of suspense and I was invested so I wasn’t bored in the slightest. The characters are likable but you just wanted more from them story wise. This movie just lacked a lot of things that could have made Mary a franchise or even a sequel. The Equalizer with Denzel Washington is getting a sequel, because the action was good, John Wick is getting a trilogy because the action is superb and the characters are interesting. Proud Mary could have really been something great but I don’t think the writers (which one of them is Steve Antin (Troy from The Goonies)) and the director Babak Najafi (London has Fallen) was thinking big enough to see the potential this movie had. I am definitely glad to see more movies out with predominant African-American actors and actresses in film. One very nice dinner scene showed a cameo of Margaret Avery which ended up being a small The Color Purple reunion I thought was really nice. This was a great step for Henson. As an executive producer as well as lead, I could see Henson take on more roles like this in front and behind the camera. The story was just a bit weak and the action came in just a little too late.
3 out of 5
Now for my small rant I made earlier regarding the trailer. There are two types of people in this world: Those who love trailers and those two don’t. The reason being because trailers tend to be very revealing regarding big scenes to entice viewers into showing up at the movies but doing so also gives away most of the movie and plot points. For some it doesn’t really warrant a rush to the movies to watch because we have seen the whole movie in the trailer. Might as well wait when it is cheaper to watch on the small screen. What I saw in this trailer for Proud Mary was enough for me to be interested in checking it out. It didn’t really show much to what the story is about and didn’t give away much as far as action scenes. The downfall to this type of advertising is that you are left with your own assumptions, hype, and expectation with what is shown and if the movie doesn’t deliver it fails. I walked in with the hopes I was going to get more action than what was executed based on the trailer but it was more story driven. The trailer should have concentrated on the story in a teasing way. Also, the lack of advertising of the movie itself is downright insulting. This movie came in through the backdoor while everyone was sleeping and the alarm didn’t even go off to let everyone know. This movie deserved a bit more attention then what it was given ad wise and while they are known for making low-budget films, something just still felt missing to bring more attention to the great actress that is Taraji P. Henson.