Proud Mary: Movie Man Jackson

Say it loud, say it proud. Mary (Taraji P. Henson) is a hitwoman in Boston, carrying out the death deeds when the family ran by Benny (Danny Glover) needs people to be dealt with. On one routine hit, Mary executes her target professionally as always, but is taken aback when her mark is discovered to have a young boy.

This shakes Mary who isn’t quite the same after this day, and as such, has been looking over the boy from afar, who has run into some tough times. Feeling responsible, the hitwoman takes “Danny” (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) in privately, gives him some TLC, and finds the people responsible for Danny’s situation. But, the youngster is tied to some deep criminal roots, roots that have the potential to start a war between Mary’s criminal family and another, putting everyone and their lives at risk.

 

Proud Mary. Look at the poster, the name of the movie taken after the famous Ike and Tina track, the tagline (“Killing for the man every night and day”), and the general plot summary. Sounds a lot like a 70’s Blaxploitation flick, right? Wrong. Now, to expect something on the tone of, say Black Dynamite would be asking for too much, but, the recipe is here for 50% of that along with some solid, John Wick/Atomic Blonde-esque action. Unfortunately, what is present is an average-to-poorly made crime drama befitting of its release date.

Proud Mary starts off well enough. The title credits look like they came out of the 70’s, accompanied by The Temptations classic of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” Fun stuff, and Henson’s hitwoman wastes no time getting down to business with executing a lethal hit. But, that nice opening is the exception, not the rule, to Proud Mary. Once this movie jumps to one year after the incident, any hopes of the movie being a crowd-pleasing, gleefully violent ride down memory lane are lost.

Really, Proud Mary is a “family” drama and not a compelling one. The story itself is essentially a basic “time for me to get out” one, so it comes down to the relationship/chemistry between Henson and Winston’s characters in getting the audience to care about their plights. At best, the chemistry between the two is mediocre and nonexistent at worst, hampered by a rushed union and saddled by sometimes clunky dialogue.

This is a problem that not only these two share, but others in the movie, in which characters have a weird habit of talking over others for no real reason. Other bonds and revelations come to the forefront in attempts to add stakes, but midway through, one may find it hard to care about either of the lead characters and whether they make it to see tomorrow. And this is terrible, because Taraji P. Henson is not only likable, but quite talented. But, Proud Mary never gives her much of an opportunity to be or sound cool, or look like a badass. Or, maybe she never gives herself the opportunity, being executive producer and all.

Director Babak Najafi’s last movie was London Has Fallen, not exactly a movie a director wants on their resume to show off their talent. Some of the jagged and rough editing issues found in that one pop up here as well, if not more so. A mid-movie raid shootout and one-against-all blitz play climax should feature ton of satisfying moments…if only they could be seen in clear. Hard to remember light being used so poorly in a feature after viewing this one. One scene in particular obscures 90 percent of Glover’s face in a basic conversation, making someone wonder how this could just be left in the movie as is.

With a lighter tone and tighter editing, Proud Mary could have been a fun throwback action flick in what is typically a lean month for new releases. Instead, it’s dynamite. Not the good kind.

D

Photo credits go to thedailybeast.com, abcnews.go.com, and filmipop.com

For additional detailed thoughts on films both small and large, games, and the key moments that comprise each, check out ThatMomentIn.com

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Timeline: Movie Man Jackson

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“You make your own history.”

History can literally be changed, you just have to go back to that specific point in time to change it. In Timeline, anthropology professor Edward Johnston (Billy Connolly) leads his students on an archaeological dig study in the ruins of Castlegard, a village in France that was one of the battleground settings for the Hundred Years’ War. One of Professor Johnston’s students happens to be his son Chris (Paul Walker), who has taken a strong but semi-unrequited liking to his classmate Kate (Frances O’Connor).

The team begins to receive and discover some oddly dated objects, which prompts Professor Johnston to fly to the ITC Corporation in New Mexico, the corporation that is sponsoring the dig. After a few days of not hearing any word from him, Chris and classmates are asked to the company’s headquarters, where they find out the truth about Edward. By way of a wormhole, Professor Johnston is now in the year 1357. To rescue him, it is simple. Chris and friends must go into the past to bring the professor back in order to preserve the present and future.

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For a director who has done many films that can, in a way, be considered as crown jewels in their respective genres (Superman 1978, The Omen, The Goonies, even Lethal Weapon), it is shocking that Richard Donner is the man behind Timeline, a massive dud on mostly all fronts. It is not much better than a straight-to-video effort, compounded by the fact that it cost roughly 80 million to make.

Timeline is an adaptation of the novel with the same name authored by Michael Crichton, the man who is credited with creating the television show ER as well as the massive franchise in Jurassic Park starting with the novel. The novel may be fine, but what transpires on the screen is the furthest thing from it. It fails to interest, doesn’t really know if it is a science fiction or a medieval fantasy, and has no real idea of pacing or development of its characters.

In essence, the film is a series of love stories between father and son, young men and young women, and it is expected that these relationships will give the film the emotional core it needs, but with so little effort put into them, it is tough to care about whether they come to fruition or not. With the stinker of the plot, it is here where one can see the creative differences that occurred between Donner and the studio. About the only aspect that does work—mildly—happens to the design, though for the money tied into this, it leaves something to be desired as well.

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Sadly, these problems are only exacerbated by downright putrid performances. Lead billing goes to Paul Walker. Walker always possesses the super California cool, likable, and magnetic personality, traits that were great positives to most of his movies. But here, as an archaeological student, he is woefully miscast. Even in 14th century garb, it is impossible not to see Brian O’Conner in this, as his delivery is basically what is seen and heard in that franchise, and he doesn’t appear to be trying to do anything else. Yours truly halfway expected to see his character ride out in the iconic Skyline or Toyota Supra.

Romantically, he has zero chemistry with the woman who plays his love interest, Frances O’Connor, who is so dull and lifeless here. Really, that can be said for just about everyone that appears here, including Neal McDonough, Anna Friel, and Martin Csokas to name a few. Only Gerard Butler as a archaeologist is the positive from the acting sense. He has next to nothing to work with, but his character is written the strongest (by default) , and Butler seems to get into it more than the others.

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When the writer of the novel decides to disassociate themselves from their film adaptation to the point that they would be fine in never selling any text rights to a studio again, the studio must have created a deplorable film. This is a hard timeline to follow.

Grade: D-

Photo credits go to imdb.com. people.com, and galleryhip.com.

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