It didn’t take long for 2018 to deliver a terrible movie, but here we are with Proud Mary proving to be an extreme disappointment. Proud Mary tells us the story of an assassin (Taraji P. Henson) who feels guilty about killing the father of a young boy. A year later, she finds the boy and in a moment of impulsiveness, kills the man he’s working for, which sets of a turf war in Boston, that threatens to consume the city. Meanwhile, Mary begins to feel for the boy and seeing a life for herself outside the organization, much to the chagrin of her boss (Danny Glover) and former lover (Billy Brown).
After walking out of the theater and contemplating the film, it truly is difficult to pinpoint just what of the films flaws really doomed it. The movie’s script is shaky, indecisive about whether to be a sudsy thriller or a romp. It settles into some middle place, where it relies on exposition rather than character actions to drive the story. There are so many elements to this story: a time jump, complicated character dynamics, gang turf wars, abuse, and the script mashes them together with no kind of finesse. I mean entire characters and plot lines are dropped with barely any ceremony (sorry Neal McDonaugh). The filmmaking then seems to follow suit: the editing is incomprehensible, neither holding the tension or filling in the gaps. Proud Mary does move, but it’s moving to a rhythm that’s against it’s characters. Everything just stinks of a team that got into post production and were lost about what kind of movie was being made.
Perhaps most egregious of all, the film cannot seem to nail down Mary as a character. Taraji is an incredibly gifted actress and she plays the role with the gusto you’d expect of her. The problem is the movie’s script can’t decide whether she’s a hardened woman who made one mistake or a wilting flower who can’t rise to the occasion. I never understood why a woman who has been trained to be an assassin, albeit reluctantly, would have so much heart to start a gang war over a boy. This mistake makes her seem dumber than she should be and she also doesn’t seem to want to correct that mistake and cover her tracks. Furthermore, a character of her knowledge level should have been prepared for the various scenarios she’d come across, not have to be told by men how things are going to go. It just reeks of the desire to have a woman in a position of power but not give them the storytelling might you’d give a man.
In the end, the best thing about this film was that it was 88 minutes.