Proud Mary (2018)
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There was so much potential in this movie that was squandered. Henson shines in almost everything she's been in, and Billy Brown (as Tom) has held his own on How to Get Away with Murder. The plot isn't the worst either. Yet, what came out was a mediocre movie.
The first issue we noticed was the weird scene changes both literally and tonally. At times, a transition would come in the middle of a scene, out of nowhere, in an extremely obvious, and not at all sophisticated fashion (think the screen-wipe transition you can use on PowerPoint). Tonally, all scenes would start out fairly mundane, jump immediately to something that was meant to be profound and thought-provoking, and then fall right back to a casual exchange in less than five minutes. It was awkward and left a bad taste in the mouth. Moviegoers are lucky that the movie is only 88 minutes long.
The half-assed dialogue, the utter lack of character development and non-existent chemistry made it impossible to recover from these mistakes. Essentially, it seemed that this movie's main goal was to have a shootout scene set to "Proud Mary."
Big wheel keep on turnin' BAM BAM Proud Mary keep on burnin' BAM BAM Rollin', BAM BAM rollin', BAM BAM rollin' on the river BAM BAM
It would have been an effective short, because this scene was really awesome, save for the fact that members of a major crime family can't seem to land a single shot.
In a world where people are hungry for more movies featuring POC and women in the lead, the filmmakers do a big disservice by making a subpar movie. Couple that with the complete lack of marketing budget this film seemed to have (perhaps because they had already sunk $14M into what they realized was a lackluster final product) and it's no wonder this film opened 8th behind a busy holiday release slate.
Featuring: A movie set in Boston with ZERO Boston accents. But the Russian was good? (Probably because they hired actual Russians.)
What started off as a classic, nostalgic feel, is now every other action film cliche that we have seen countless times.
Again, Taraji is really the only actress who was able to save this film.
Saw the title of this film and was intrigued as the title is the same as one of the songs that I love "Proud Mary" so obviously I thought they have used this song to hang the story of the film on, right?
Whilst the story is of interest and (don't get me wrong) this is an enjoyable film the premise just doesn't sit right and actually spoils the whole thing.
A female orphan being adopted (taken in) by a mob family and trained to be a contact killer(don't worry I'm not giving anything away) suddenly having a conscience and turning her back on.............
Worth seeing, but save it for a rainy evening when nothing else is on, you will enjoy it but not as much as other films in this genre like 'Death Wish, John Wick' or the hugely awaited The Equalizer 2.
Rating 6 out of 10
I know most movies are not what we expect but this one was way off the mark. I absolutely LOVE Taraji! She's a great dramatic and comedic actress but totally unbelievable as an action heroin. The script was all over the place which caused the acting to suffer and I still have no clue where they were trying to take this from the beginning. I really REALLY wanted to like this movie but there is absolutely nothing to like about it. It came off as low budget, and half written.
Anyway, more in the style of modern action movies which produce more "as if" moments and unbelievable action sequences, not to mention more bullets than any weapon can hold in a single load, thrown in with a few dramatic moments and one-liners.
Definitely not on my Sat afternoon rewatch list.
Taraji P. Henson is an assassin (Mary) for one of two rival gangs, she completes a hit but feels regret for the youngster she makes into an orphan and takes him under her wing. The start is positive, looks like a retro 70's film, but almost immediately abandons that idea and quickly goes downhill.
The action scenes are dull, the plot is formulaic, and the acting is wooden. For instance, the hit-woman's gunshot wounds magically seem to vanish, there are several gunfights where thousands of bullets are flying around but all miss, basically seen it all before.
What starts well enough loses all potential. Looks like an amateur project. Go and see 'you were never really here' instead.
I'm too lazy to look up who wrote this both half-baked and simultaneously over-cooked story of a mob assassin who kills the father of a boy, turning him an orphan (I can hear Black Dynamite, a character this world really needs now more than ever, yell now "NOT THE ORPHANS! THEY HAVE NO PARENTS!") and then she looks after him a full year later once the boy has, uh, fallen under the dominance of a Russian mobster so then mob-war ensues that's kind of her fault in a lot of ways... but the director? Oh, Babak Najafi had only been on my radar due to a delayed viewing of the sequel London Has Fallen, and in part because some - not all but some - of that had some inspired insanity. It appears though when he doesn't have everything handed over to him the hack in him comes out ten-fold, and the worst part is the dull sensation that washes over you as you slump further in the chair taking in what should or could be a deliciously trashy (or, hell, a legitimately *good*) vehicle for Henson.
Instead we get a vision that doesn't have any vision, as Najafi edits like he's worried we'll lose interest so it's rapid even when the more boring conversations are happening (sometimes with a rather one-note Danny Glover as Mary's boss, who I hadn't seen in a while but could tell a ton of this was ADR'd, badly), and the adverse inevitably happens and interest gets deflated very quickly. Maybe he knows there's not much here, a script that sorely needed some work to liven it up or to make it less of a pseudo uh black Batman origin story in the guise of a female action flick. He leaves his actors for themselves too to do what they can, and how one can tell is that everything with Henson and the boy Danny (Winston) is markedly more natural and emotional than everything else (ie Billy Brown as Tom, who is mostly a wooden presence). Even given some cool looking locations in the Boston city area, a change of pace from the usual Louisiana landscapes for these cheap genre fare, is given the short shrift with his shooting and editing.
I know it sounds like I'm going after a flmmaker for a product that doesn't mean much and should just be enjoyed as dumb popcorn fare, but that's precisely the point. Take Henson out of this (Glover could be optional either way) and this is some direct to video piece of drek that isn't enjoyable as schlock until the final ten minutes when the title track comes up and we see lots of insane bullets and cars and people getting killed happen. No one wants to really be here aside from the two leads, and that makes it all the more painful. I'm sorry, but for all of the support I want to give Henson, she needs people around her that actually care about what they are doing (again, for as silly as Hill/Grier projects of the 70's, there was some attention to craft going on) and can give her something that rises above mediocrity.
That actually makes it worse, since the marketing and even the opening credits give the impression of a decent homage. It's a conflicting emotion one is left with: on the one hand, you want something like this to have some success so she can get more roles like this or has more opportunities to expand what she can do (Empire won't be on the air forever, and as solid as she is in Hidden Figures it's not all she's capable of). On the other hand, if this movie tanking means that Najafi is a little closer to being run out of Hollywood to go back to directing the Iranian direct-to-video crap he was doing before, that's fine too. So... ugh.
Proud Mary reinforces the notion that 'after everything, love is all that matters...truly loving someone is all that matters.'
I liked the fact that TP (my home girl) could be both a Saviour as well as a Satan. I can forgive this movie's goofs which were overshadowed by its actors' crystal performance.
When she carries out orders to take out a man who was heavily indebted to her small but powerful Boston crime family, she learns that he had a tween son who is now an orphan. She spends the next year secretly following Danny (Jahi Di'Allo Winston) around town as he lives on the streets and works for an abusive local drug dealer (Xander Berkeley). At an especially vulnerable moment for Danny, Mary steps in and struggles to break through his defenses to help him and become his protector. But she also inadvertently drags him into a brewing gang war between her family (headed by Danny Glover and Billy Brown) and a group of eastern European criminals (headed by Rade Serbedzija, perhaps best known as the villain in "Taken 2").
This genre movie is fairly formulaic, with little to distinguish it from similar films, but it's also fairly well-done and fans of the genre (and/or the very accomplished cast) will probably find it entertaining. "B-"
This is an action thriller film that follows successful hit-woman working for an organized crime family in Boston. However, her life is completely shifted when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes wrong and she leaves the boy orphaned. It stars Taraji P. Henson, Billy Brown, Danny Glover, Neal McDonough, Xander Berkeley, Margaret Avery, and Jahi Di'Allo Winston. The film received negative reviews from critics and only grossed $21 million, but those who did watch the film generally enjoyed it. This film was misjudged by Hollywood critics like most films are today. Gone are the days a film can be what it is without it being criticized for its genre's tropes. This need for films to be everything but what they are is destroying film making. Filmakers are trying to hard to please everyone, but the actual people who watch the films. This is an action film and nothing more. A pretty good action film as well. Let it be that simple.
The writers and director should have watched a few more movies with Pam Grier as female lead. Maybe even watch domino or the female assassin from John Wick 2.
Characters were weak and one dimensional. Hope sequel is better researched and more character development. Will be watching ?!$
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.
One of the film's producers indicated the goal of the film was to depict "a complicated crime family." One shortcoming of the script was that the Spencer crime family and the others really weren't that complex. Indeed, the character developments lacked the multiple layers of Sonny Corleone, Tom, Michael, and Fredo of "la famiglia" in "The Godfather."
After Mary, the most intriguing character is Tom, the "Sonny" character, who is being groomed to take over the Spencer crime syndicate from the aging don, Benny Spencer (Danny Glover). Tom's character had some of the sensitivity of Proud Mary. It is too bad that they had such a failure to communicate. Tom might have been the dad the little boy Danny never had.
The film locations around Boston were one of the highlights of the film. By contrast, the interior scenes with the different mob families were routine and full of the standard film violence of the family crime genre.
"Proud Mary" was a throwback film to the Tommy Gibbs characters of actor Fred Williamson in the 1970s. The relationship of Mary and the teenage boy Danny was touching well acted. The young actor who played Danny was excellent. One could imagine a sequel to the film that plays like a road picture with Mary and Danny traveling across the country along the lines of "Harold and Maude."