This past summer I saw the first trailer for Proud Mary and, I am am not ashamed to tell you, was excited. I'm a sucker for a good trailer and this one gave me plenty to be excited about. A barrage of gun shots to the beat of Proud Mary with car chases and explosions... Who wouldn't be excited? Plus from the look of it, a story about a strong woman kicking ass which, as the father of a girl, I am always on board for.
A strange thing happened in the lead up to the film's release, though. It seems that Sony lost its confidence in the film and screened it for reviewers through a very difficult fashion of picking out of the way theaters and, from what I saw, did not begin regular screenings until Friday. This had me intrigued, so I put off seeing The Post so I could see what was up this Proud Mary.
I went in wanting to like the movie and expecting a good old fashioned shoot-em-up with a throwback to the Blaxploitation movies of the 1970's but this was not that. It wasn't even a good kick ass woman movie. The character of Mary, played by Taraji P. Henson, is not a flawed character because of her choices but flawed because of the writing of her character. The screenwriters and directors think that if you give a woman a gun, it makes her strong but this film proves them absolutely 100% wrong.
Here it is; a hit-woman assassinates a man, only to discover she a young boy at the scene. Now, guilt-ridden, she has to protect him. Great on paper. The story is simple and could have been executed well had it been given to someone who could write for a strong black woman. Instead it was given to the complete opposite, a white man. Oh... but wait... there were three writers? Oh, all white men. One of those men being a soap-opera writer of Days of Our Lives. Well, maybe the director could have had some influen... oh... another man... the director of London Has Fallen, Iranian-born Babak Najafi. Damn.
Here's how you know this was written by a man; Mary makes mistake after mistake and never learns from them. All the mistakes slowly but eventually leads to the downfall of every single person around her except for the child she protects, though at the beginning of the film she orphans by killing his father and then abandons him for a year. A year in which he becomes a drug runner of the Russian mafia (that's a hell of a year). So even then, she is the reason the boy needs protecting and even while under he protection his life is put into even greater peril. The basis of this film has to be Pandora's Box. All the hero of Proud Mary does is cause problems for herself. It's so bizarre for the main protagonist of a movie to also be one of the main antagonists.
One of the most distracting issues in Proud Mary is the sound. I was overjoyed to see Danny Glover on screen and in the first scene noticed his voice seemed to be completely ADR-ed in. His voice was flat and slightly louder than every other character, so I figured it was just that one scene but no. Throughout the entire film his voice was layered over not only other dialog but also all the Foley work. An intimate scene where Glover and Henson were slow dancing was supposed to done in whispers but Glover's voice carried like a high school stage actor projecting to the back of the house.
As for the action. Well, what you see in the trailer is the bulk of it and it might seem like a lot but it really isn't. The majority of that action is in the last 10 minuets of the film while the song Proud Mary is playing. That part was enjoyable but mainly because you had to sit through the 77 minuets in the lead up to it. It's like an alright kiss at the end of a terrible date.
Proud Mary might one day be something that is on TV during a weekend afternoon and that would be the best way to see it. Not requiring a ton of attention and definitely not deserving of it.