I have a feeling that if Proud Mary had debuted back in the late 1990’s it would have found a willing audience on Home Video, possibly enough to justify a (better) sequel. The surprise for this reviewer is that Proud Mary is more of a slow burn than an all-out action homage. The film contains only two minor action sequences and exposes itself to be a route crime drama with an overly familiar plot. Lead, Taraji P. Henson, is magnetic and holds the screen well, but is given very little opportunity to showcase her talent in a story that leaves her character with little to do.
Mary (Henson) is a cold-blooded assassin working under crime boss, Benny (Danny Glover). She’s sent to kill a man and does so without remorse, but then she sees the man’s son playing video games and leaves the child to live. This act of humanity will have repercussions later on. A year passes and the boy (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) is living on the streets and running drugs for a Russian drug dealer (Xander Berkeley). That’s until Mary finds the kid laying unconscious in an alley after being robbed of his backpack. She befriends the kid, giving him a place to sleep and killing the Russian he is indebted to. This violent act causes long-simmering tensions between Bennie and his Russian counterparts as a gangland war is set to explode.
Proud Mary doesn’t offer up anything new and all but abandons its roots by film’s end. It doesn’t bother to recreate the look, attitude, and entertainment value of those Blaxploitation titles that have endured as iconic classics over the last forty years. This is a confused project with a script so routine it robs the picture of any sense of fun or excitement. Proud Mary seems to have been made by folks who’ve seen The Professional and Gloria, one too many times. Not bad on a technical level, just excruciatingly dull.
Director: Babak Najafi
Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Danny Glover