When it comes to action movies, we sadly don’t get many of them fronted by a strong female character and even fewer by an African-American female. Based on Taraji P. Henson’s effort in this high action thriller, you have to wonder why because she is every much the sharp-shooting, tough, but steely action heroine that you would expect from any action star.
Proud Mary sees Henson’s Mary Goodwin, an assassin for hire who works for a major gang in Boston. Living a ruthless life but not one without remorse, Mary’s actions lead her to care for a young boy Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston), orphaned by one of her hits. However, her softened heart and desire to change her ways results in consequences which eventually lead her to a showdown with both rival gangs, as she finds herself locked in a desperate struggle to free herself and her newfound motherhood from this life.
The premise for Proud Mary is not exactly an original one and indeed even the many action set pieces and plot points may have been pulled from other movies, but imitation is not always a bad thing though if you can at least execute it well and for that part at least this movie gets it right as Director Babak Najafi many familiar elements from other films replicates them into finer moments.
The story by John S. Newman and Christian Swegal might be a copy and paste of many other far superior movies, but at least Najafi makes it all work with some exceptional doses of highly stylistic bullet play mixed in with the raw emotion that connects Mary her orphaned ward. It’s that heartfelt humanity that drives her character and helps the film beyond far less generic.
It’s this same quality within Proud Mary that many fans of similarly-themed action movies are likely to get frustrated with as well, because the focus of this movie is definitely on its characters, slowing down the action and allowing the cast to develop. Other times, the action is rushed and lack tension as you never get the feeling that Mary’s life is at stake through all of the impressive gunplay, which is perhaps a mark missed by Najafi here.Personally I loved the human touch that Proud Mary provides
This is especially true of the film’s antagonist, of which there is no clear one. Make no mistake, Proud Mary is firmly about Henson’s character and the film places its emphasis on building her up and not its differingt antagonists. As they say though, a film hero is only as good as its villain and in this case, Proud Mary does fall far short of the mark. There are still some decent performances from some of the film’s other stars like Billy Brown and Danny Glover that remain enjoyable to watch as they at least make the most of the opportunities afforded to them.
Proud Mary is a movie that is an imitation of many others, features some rushed action and poor development of its villains, but is still a decent movie because of the narrative emotion behind the character of Mary and a commitment to at least imitating ideas that work well. It’s not a genre-defining movie, but it’s still an enjoyable one and helps remind us that female action heroes can be every bit as deadly as their male counterparts.
Last Updated: July 2, 2018