Over the weekend, I saw Taraji P. Henson‘s Blaxploitation-tinged action flick Proud Mary, and I gotta say, I genuinely liked it. I may be in the minority — it currently has a rating of 24% Rotten — but I found it to be entertaining, surprisingly funny, and thrilling enough. Sure, it’s not a great film (more on that later), but it was definitely a nice way to pass 90 minutes.
For those who ain’t up on the film: Henson plays Mary, an assassin in the employ of Danny Glover‘s crime lord Benny. When Mary performs a hit that leaves a young kid, Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), an orphan, she’s overcome with guilt and begins keeping tabs on the kid. Some time passes, and when Mary discovers that Danny is in the employ of a sadistic and abusive gangster named Uncle, she kills Uncle, setting off a chain of events that threaten to unravel the city’s criminal underworld.
As mentioned before, I enjoyed Proud Mary. Henson and her young co-star Winston have a great rapport, and their scenes together are an absolute joy. And while some viewers may have found the film boring, that was never the case for me. Whether it’s Mary taking Danny shopping at an upscale boutique, verbally sparring with ex-lover and fellow assassin Tom (an intense Billy Brown), or begging Benny to let her out of the syndicate so that she can have a normal life, the movie is full of moments that keep your attention — at least, these moments kept mine.
Yep. @ira said it.
“The movie is called Proud Mary and I came to see Henson shoot up some motherfuckers and the film does not deliver enough of this.”
— lauren warren (@iamlaurenp) January 15, 2018
And although there aren’t that many pure action scenes in the film — something that has irked some moviegoers — the ones we do get are pretty damn good, especially the shootout during the climax, which can rival any of the gun battles seen in a John Wick flick. Headshots galore, baby.
Now, there were some elements that I did feel bring the film down. Action scenes notwithstanding, I think Babak Najafi‘s direction overall was amateurish. And what was up with all the establishing shots? Do we really need to see the exterior of Mary’s apartment building or Benny’s waterfront warehouse so many times? I was also a bit disappointed in how underused Margaret Avery and Neal McDonough were. Anyone could have filled those roles, and it’s not as if the actors really brought anything special to the characters. And really, what the hell was going on with Danny Glover’s ADR? It was pretty terrible.
All that aside, I liked Proud Mary. No, it’s sadly not going to be the herald of a new wave of Black heronie-led action flicks, but it was a nice Saturday afternoon diversion, and I very much enjoyed seeing Taraji kick some ass on the big screen.
Who knows, maybe I’ll get a crack at writing the sequel. 😉
Proud Mary. Rated R for violence. 89 minutes. Opened Jan. 12, 2018. Directed by Babak Najafi. Produced by Tai Duncan, Paul Schiff, and Andrea Ajemain. Screenplay by John Stuart Newman & Christian Swegal and Steve Antin. Story by John Stuart Newman & Christian Swegal. Executive Producers Glenn S. Gainor, Taraji P. Henson. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Billy Brown, Danny Glover, Neal McDonough, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Xander Berkeley, and Margaret Avery.