Mary (Taraji P. Henson) is 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.
In Boston, Mary (Henson), an expert assassin, kills her target Marcus Miller, a bookie, in his apartment. She discovers that Marcus had a son, a young boy named Danny (Jahi Di'Allo Winston), when she finds him in his room playing video games. Filled with guilt, Mary takes her leave. A year later, Danny is living on his own and has been working for a criminal named Uncle (Berkeley) and Mary has kept a distant eye on him. When a drug delivery to Jerome (Burke) goes bad, Danny asks for more money, finds it in a fridge, and takes it to Uncle. However, Uncle notices some is missing and smacks Danny when the boy says he used it to get food, with Uncle threatening to hurt the boy. When Danny is taking a nap on a bench, he notices someone swipes his bag and gives chase. Pulling out his gun and getting the thief to drop it, Danny then faints and falls to the ground. Several moments later, Mary finds him..
I Wish "Mary" Came To the Fight With a Fully Loaded Clip
By this time, we all know what to expect from a Screen Gems Movie. This is the same studio that has made a living producing small budget films to the urban community like Obsessed, No Good Deed, and When the Bough Breaks. While they have all maintained solid profitability, I have found all of their filmmaking and writing severely lacking any thrills and under utilizing their lead actors. So I found myself walking into Proud Mary expecting a familiar feeling, but a slight sense of naive optimism.
Mary (Taraji P. Henson) plays a hitman who learns she kills the parent of a young boy during a assigned hit. Over the year, she oversees his wellness and takes him in and notices the strain it brings between her and her higher up (Danny Glover) and her previous lover (Billy Brown).
While some of the films budget limits can be seen, the film is able to bring some decent performances from Billy Brown and some decent "gun-fu" action. The finale has a fleeting moment of some engaging action, but it feels all too brief and too dimly lit to take in the stunt's Taraji did. There are fleeting moments when the film is able to not take itself so seriously, particularly one scene when the credits begin to roll which I wish the film committed itself to that certain feeling more often.
While I am not surprised the boss subplot is irrelevant, it still amazes me how little we know about Mary as a character. Her backstory is almost inexistent, which is bothersome given she's such a motherly character but still feels too locked to her own thoughts. The villain's also have no gravitas, as they never physically challenge Mary and feel like faceless dummies to show off Taraji's fighting abilities. And the little boy can be very annoying and all over the place at times. One moment he plays as a hardened street kid and the next a whiny child.
Proud Mary thankfully isn't the disaster I was worried it would be, but it's not as committed to the over the top action I wished it was. While the mother-son dynamic allows for a softer criminal, the emotional impact doesn't feel earned. The 70s music choices are on the nose at times, but loosens up the film at points. To put it simply, Proud Mary comes to the fight strapped with a half empty clip.
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