From its kickin’ soundtrack to its deliberately retro cinematography, Proud Mary is clearly an homage to the action-packed B-movies of the ’70s. The fabulously versatile Taraji P. Henson stars as the titular character at the heart of this 90-minute vignette. Although she is a pretty badass assassin, Mary has a jarring change of heart when she stumbles upon Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), the young son of one of her targets -- he is oblivious as to what happened to his father, since he had his headphones on in another room. Fast-forward to a year later: Danny is on the streets, slinging dope for the ruthless kingpin Uncle (Xander Berkeley). Unbeknownst to him, Mary has been watching him ever since -- which comes in handy when Danny passes out in an alleyway.
Mary takes Danny in, keeping him in her swanky, mod, blood-money-funded apartment. Overcome with guilt from seeing the effects of street life on her new ward, Mary pays Uncle a visit that ends with her killing him in cold blood -- which triggers an ever-escalating chain of volatile events for Boston’s organized-crime scene.
It is a true joy to watch Henson flex her action-heroine muscles in this role, and the bond between Henson and Winston is touching. However, the movie is ultimately undone by its lackluster script: Although Mary has a lot of potential as a character, her transformation from cold-blooded contract killer to emotionally sensitive mother figure within a matter of days is eyebrow-raising. Sure, believability wasn’t really an important factor in the pulpy exploitation flicks that Proud Mary hopes to emulate, but the film never really finds its footing. The result? A disjointed movie with an identity crisis. Between the solid acting and the creative camerawork -- and one more shout-out to the soundtrack -- there is a lot of interesting potential in Proud Mary, but sloppy editing and writing prevent it from really landing.
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- Released: 2018
- Rating: R
- Review: From its kickin’ soundtrack to its deliberately retro cinematography, Proud Mary is clearly an homage to the action-packed B-movies of the ’70s. The fabulously versatile Taraji P. Henson stars as the titular character at the heart of this 90-minute vignett… (more)