Film Review: Proud Mary

I wanted to support Taraji P. Henson in her film “Proud Mary” and I’m glad I did. I know the critics savaged it and Rotten Tomatoes gave it 23%. But I’m veering off the freeway with this film. I think a lot of critics didn’t like it because they didn’t understand it, nor did they pick up on or appreciate the nod it gave to the so-called “blaxploitation” films of the 70’s. Another issue the critics appeared to have with Proud Mary is that it wasn’t filled with a ton of CGI, Special EFX and grandiose stunt sequences with the hero, or in this case, the heroine doing a lot of slow motion acrobatics, while mowing down 100 bad guys trying to kill her.

Proud Mary is a definite throwback to 70’s linear storytelling. It wasn’t filled with a multitude of subplots, random characters popping in and out, with no real connection to the overall narrative, and a bunch of not too subtle societal messages pounding the audience over the head like a sledgehammer. People in the theater also didn’t need a Ph.D in – “I think I’m so damned clever filmmaking”. It was a very easy film to watch and follow. The cinematography was clean, the action was just enough to move the story along and make you go WOW, the acting was good; Taraji P. Henson killed it as a badass hitwoman who can dispatch her targets without a second thought. Jahi Di’Allo Winston, who played the kid she looked after, was great. Danny Glover was also on-point as the crime boss Taraji’s character Mary worked for. Everyone cast in Proud Mary did their jobs well.

Were there some issues, of course. I thought the first half of the film moved a bit slow and there were a few small holes in the storyline, but it wasn’t enough to say Proud Mary is a bad film. The major problem with Proud Mary is that it wasn’t promoted enough, and for those who are addicted to slick, colorful, special EFX-laden films with an abundance of camera angle trickery, you’ll probably find Proud Mary boring and flat. But if you want a film that follows the screenwriter’s go-to, as in Freytag’s Pyramid, then you’ll find a warm place in your heart for Proud Mary.

As a sidenote: There were two films in the same vein as Proud Mary. The 1980 film Gloria with Gena Rowlands and the 1999 remake of Gloria with Sharon Stone. If you ever saw either of those films and liked them, then you’ll probably like Proud Mary.


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