Trading in the glasses and rocket science know-how for a firearm. I’ve heard of worse transitions.
The story, based on the one trailer I’ve seen, is about a female assassin. If I were to hazard a guess, the kid at the end of the trailer is her son, whom she had to give up. More guesses, her son is the next target, maybe some betrayal by those that hired her, I don’t know. Spit-ballin’ here.
Here’s the cast. Starring and apparently one of the executive producers, we have Taraji P. Henson, known for HIDDEN FIGURES (2016), and upcoming films ACRIMONY (2018) and RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 (2018). In support, we have Danny Glover (MONSTER TRUCKS , and upcoming films DEATH RACE 4: BEYOND ANARCHY  and OLD MAN & THE GUN ), Neal McDonough (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER , and upcoming films GAME OVER, MAN!  and THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS ), Xander Berkeley (ALLEGIANT  and TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY ), Billy Brown (CLOVERFIELD , HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 , video game STAR WARS KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC 2: THE SITH LORDS , and the upcoming SUICIDE SQUAD: HELL TO PAY ), and Jahi Di’Allo Winston (stuff I’ve never heard of).
Now for the crew. Directing is Babak Najafi, known for LONDON HAS FALLEN (2016). Making for a red flag total of three screen writers, we have John Stuart Newman (TV shows: 2 episodes of GET SHORTY [2017 – ongoing] and many episodes of DAYS OF OUR LIVES [1965 – ongoing]), Christian Swegal (feature film debut; congrats, sir), and Steve Antin (BURLESQUE ). Composing the score is Fil Eisler, known for CHIPS (2017), TO THE BONE (2017), and HOW TO BE SINGLE (2016). The cinematographer is Dan Laustsen, known for THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017), JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (2017), and THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN (2003). Finally, the editor is Evan Schiff, known for JOHN WICK 2 and SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU (2016).
Overall, I can’t tell if this is going to be good or bad. I’m going in with zero expectations.
This is my honest opinion of: PROUD MARY
One year ago, Mary (Taraji P. Henson) was tasked with killing someone and no survivors. But the target had a son, Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), and she couldn’t kill him. A year later, Danny’s used as a child criminal working for an abusive employer. Mary encounters him again and kills Danny’s employer, accidentally causing a turf war between the criminal families, one of them being who she works for. As she takes care of Danny, the two get closer and Mary starts to want out of her life of crime to make up for her sins of the past.
It’s bad and I don’t like it, but… it’s nothing worth getting upset about. I’m not even entirely sure what to talk about other than it’s pretty nonsensicle and doesn’t make a lick of sense.
The beginning the film has about the fastest pace I’ve seen in awhile. In the span of maybe one minute, Mary enters a room, kills a man, sees Danny, and the scene cuts to one year later. We don’t learn a single thing about who Mary is, hell, we don’t even know her name until maybe the fifteen, twenty minute mark. Obviously, we can guess her name, as it’s the title of the damn movie, but it’s still strange bit of writing, which is consistently bland all the way through this flick.
This is about the perfect sum up of what the rest of the movie is. A whole bunch of, “What?” The story, as previously mentioned, is about Mary taking in this kid and taking care of him. But based on what we get in its execution, she kills the boy’s dad, leaves him alone, and then two or three scenes later, we see them reunited and that’s when she takes him in. Granted, it’s because of an injury, but here’s the problem. Has she been watching over him this entire time? Did she just happen to find him by chance? It’s likely that she’s been watching him, but this isn’t ever explained. If she has been watching him, why help him now? In a year doing hard criminal shit, holding guns up to other criminals, how was a twisted ankle, which we never really see him get after getting smacked in the face by Uncle (Xander Berkeley), her motivation for stepping in?
The writing isn’t great either. Weird dialog, like when Mary is about to kill her target in the beginning, the phone rings and she says, “Don’t answer that,” and immediately shoots him in the head. That comment wasn’t necessary. That might have worked if this was a fun and light-hearted action movie, which I’ll get to in a minute, but it doesn’t work if we’re trying to take these characters seriously. The directing is really bad. After Danny’s backpack is stolen, he pulls a gun, fires a couple warning shots at the mugger, who nonchalantly drops the pack and then we see him literally jogging away like it was supposed to be a rehearsal take. If you were just fired at, you’d be sprinting away like a entomophobe facing a swarm of wasps. Actually, that’s something pretty universal, isn’t it? Either way, you get my meaning. And seriously, if Mary’s one rule for having Danny in her apartment is to not go into her room, especially touching her guns, why doesn’t she get a damn lock, or hide her weapons better? With the amount of firepower she carries, one would think that cost of getting all of this shit wouldn’t be a problem.
Oh, and swinging back on the “fun” action movie comment I made, yeah, this movie is supposed to be taken seriously. There’s very few jokes, outside of a cursing kid, which isn’t funny by default. But there’s one bizarre scene in the climax where Mary is going postal on the bad guys, and there’s a fun jazzy hip-hop song playing like it’s something straight out of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Not that I didn’t enjoy the song, which I can’t find for the life of me, but it’s horribly out of place. This is the first time we were supposed to have fun with this movie and we haven’t been having fun for the majority of it.
About the only real redeeming qualities are that both Henson and Winston churn out decent performances, especially Winston, playing a refreshingly capable and self-reliant tough kid character. I may not necessarily buy that one year prior he was normal video game-playing kid turned hardened pistol-packing criminal a year later, but the kid’s conviction in his acting sells it better than it really had much right to, even if it is unintentionally hilarious. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy Glover as the head of a gangster family.
Overall, if nothing else, if the movie isn’t being stupid, it’s being boring. There’s no character that gets any real development, hence there not being a single reason for the audience to care about who makes it out alive or dies. It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen, but it’s clear that not a lot of effort went into its writing or direction. I don’t recommend it, either in theaters or a rental. Save the time, money, and effort. Proud Mary ought to be ashamed.
My honest rating for PROUD MARY: 2/5