Saturday, January 13, 2018

Proud Mary - A Movie That Should've Worried About What Could've Been

Proud Mary uses the song on which the title is based very well. The opening credits scene is a rich, colorful and almost sensual nod to classic blaxploitation movies from the 70's. While a slow version of Proud Mary plays in the background, Taraji P. Henson as Mary is donning her "work clothes". The look is all appropriately badass because Mary works as an enforcer and assassin for a Boston crime family that has taken care of her since a childhood gone wrong. I thought "Oh this is promising". Unfortunately, I didn't leave the theater with that same feeling.

Proud Mary drops you into the plot in a way that seems mid story. Mary has killed a bookie that double crossed her bosses and discovered that he has a teen son obliviously playing video games in another room. She sneaks out with him still unaware (because like many a big hearted movie killer before her, She "doesn't do kids"). It turns out she keeps the son's presence a secret and has been using her underworld connections to keep an eye on him. After some domestic disasters and dismal foster homes, Danny (Jahi Di'Allo Winston) is in a similar situation to Mary, working and being taken care of by a rival crime family. When his situation becomes even more dangerous, Mary meets violence with violence and rescues him. However in doing so; she's become a very busy woman. She has to protect Danny, deal with a turf war she started and cover her tracks by lying to her very dangerous "family". Talk about "workin' night and day".

I didn't hide the lead here and let you know upfront I wasn't incredibly happy on the whole with Proud Mary. Just short of an hour and a half, I think this movie was heavily edited. There is certainly nothing wrong with brevity but if you have only left behind skin and bones, people are going to miss the meat of the story. I'm supposed to believe Mary is an evolving person but how do I know that? There isn't enough back story to back that up. The crime family parts of the story could be described as paint by the numbers, cookie cutter or just a bit lazy. Mary also has a supposed romantic back story with Tom (Billy Brown), her bosses son, but he mainly seems constantly irritated with her. Why? I don't know. We are never really told. Why all this rushing of the plot? So we can get to a bullet manufacturer giddy shoot em' up with an obscene number of bodies hitting the floor (but nary a cop in sight).

Positives? There aren't any real acting sins. Taraji P. Henson is well Trajaji P. Henson. From what I can see, this is going to be a bump in the road for her but one she will soon be looking back on from the rearview mirror. I'm unfamiliar with Jahi Di'Allo Winston but look forward to seeing more. Danny Glover as Mary's boss, Benny, is underused. Glover really sells the idea that Buddy's big smiles hid the sharp, dangerous teeth of a predator. Oh and the soundtrack is awesome. Check out the link at the bottom to find it on iTunes. Final verdict? C-.