Taraji P. Henson is an actress who has really grafted, particularly on TV. She’s appeared in a number of shows, including Boston Legal, Person of Interest and currently stars as the formidable Cookie in the drama Empire.
And thankfully, due to their being less snobbery in the film world these days, it’s a little easier to move back and forth from TV to film, which she’s done with some success, most notably in 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which she received an Oscar nomination for, and 2016’s Hidden Figures.
The next step then is a star vehicle, in which to show off your talents in the solo spot light. Unfortunately for Taraji, this isn’t it.
You know someone’s a hard ass when they have a room in their apartment dedicated to guns. Mary (Henson) has one such room, making her one such bad ass. She works for Benny (Danny Glover), who is the head of an organised crime family in Boston.
If Benny has a job for her, it usually entails Mary putting a bullet in someone’s head.
While out one day, Mary comes across a young boy, passed out in an alley way. She takes him home to look after him. When he wakes up, she learns that his name is Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), and that he had ended up in the alley due to a mutual business associate known as Uncle (Xander Berkeley).
Mary decides to pay Uncle a visit, and it goes down the usual way it goes down, with a gun to the head. Unfortunately, this creates a wave of chaos in the crime world, with everyone pointing the finger as to who might have done it. Mary, wisely, decides this might be the best time to quit the day job, but with Benny having such a tight hold over her, that’s easier said than done.
When Proud Mary’s opening titles kick in, with its soulful soundtrack and cool homage to blaxploitation flicks, expectations sky rocket. It’s not long after however, that you realise that they over-promised and woefully under-delivered.
Iranian director Babak Najafi, who last helmed the hideous mess that was London Has Fallen, has clearly not learned from his previous mistakes.
The film’s script is so pedestrian, you can see more elderly scripts, with more life in them, over-taking it. Dialogue is limp, clichéd characters, all wrapped up in an unoriginal bow.
It’s there for all the world to see why Henson would have found the role appealing, but its poor execution means that it’s not quite the role, or film, that she thought would do her proud.