Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Billy Brown, Danny Glover, Neal McDonough
Director Babak Najafi
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: Taraji P. Henson is Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston, whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes bad.
It takes an incredible amount of talent to take a movie starring Taraji P. Henson and Danny Glover and butcher it. Proud Mary, through its convoluted plot, unrealistic action, and spotty dialogue, does just that.
Starting with the plot, there was no reason for us to root for Mary (Henson). Mary makes a mistake in the beginning of the movie and instead of doing any real work to get out of it, she consistently makes things worse for herself and the orphan she takes in (Jahi Di’Allo Winston). It would be bad enough if she was the only person impacted by her poor decisions, but she habitually lets other people take the fall for her mistakes. Why are we supposed to root for someone who willing to do terrible things due to her own warped perception of morality? I understand trying to show the character as morally ambiguous, but Proud Mary goes way over the line and makes me want none of these characters to end up successful.
Moving on to the writing, the dialogue and story structure are borderline embarrassing. The main conflict gets set up as Mary’s gang is suspected of committing a crime against the Russian gang. As this scene played out, I could not help but wonder, are there no other gangs in Boston? You are telling me the city that created the infamous gangster Whitey Bulger only has a black gang and a Russian gang that control the entire drug traffic? At least make a comment in passing about how the Italian mafia could not be behind it or something like that. Make me believe that your characters do not live in a bubble and you will find that a world of opportunities arrive for your story. Regarding the dialogue, many of the lines seemed very clunky, forced, and unnatural. Specifically, Glover and Henson’s dialogue is all over the place, with awkward pauses and a constant need for line repetition. It is pretty impressive that you can take two talented performers and give them dialogue that even they cannot work with. This takes an actual effort to write dialogue this bad, so at least you can say it is one of a kind.
Finally, the one thing that truly matters in an action movie is just that; the action. While some of the action sequences are kind of cool, many of them show no sense of urgency or adrenaline. One scene in particular with Henson and Brown in a violent situation just shows them walking down stairs nonchalantly while they carry out their actions. Violent scenes are supposed to be gritty and stressful, but I cannot get into a shootout when the shooters have perfect hair, not a drop of sweat on their bodies, and a blank look on their faces.
Other than a couple of nice character building moments between Henson and Winston, this movie really did not do anything it set out to do. A couple of small story changes and directorial decisions could have turned this into a serviceable action movie, but instead we got 88 minutes of steaming hot garbage. In the words of a different Danny Glover character, “I’m too old for this shit.”
Overall Score: 3/10