“Proud Mary” stars Taraji P. Henson, Billy Brown, Danny Glover, Neal McDonough, Xander Berkeley, and Margaret Avery. Released on January 12, 2018, the film is about a hitwoman who befriends a young orphan boy.
The film is directed by Babak Najafi, who also directed Sebbe, Easy Money II: Hard to Kill, and London Has Fallen. Looks like I got myself another action film to look at, and it involves Taraji P. Henson kicking some bad guy butt. When I first saw the trailer for this film, my mind was like, “Taraji P. Henson in an action movie? This should be interesting.” Honestly, I have only seen this talented actress in drama films like the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid, Think Like a Man, and Hidden Figures, so seeing her in a full-on action thriller should be considered as a nice change of pace for her. The only question that remains is this: does this change of pace translate into a good action movie?
Henson portrays a successful assassin named Mary Goodwin, who is working for a dangerous criminal organization. When her latest hit goes awry and leaves a young boy orphaned, she finds her violent life going in a much different direction. The way I see this story is that it shows what life is like living in an organized crime family as well as the main character’s path to redemption that started with her taking care of the orphan boy (played by Jahi Di’Allo Winston). I can easily understand what they’re going for, but if they’re attempting to impress people who wanted strong storytelling in an action thriller, I think they could’ve done a much better job with its execution. It’s far from good, but that doesn’t mean it’s not watchable. One of the things that kept this film going for me was Henson’s performance. What I liked about her is that she can play a character who’s feisty like a ticked-off cat after its bath and caring like a supportive mother. For her first action role, I thought she did a good job at portraying her character while maintaining her usual traits from her other roles. Danny Glover also makes a solid impression as the crime boss that Mary is working for as well as newcomer Winston as the orphan boy. The film didn’t have a lot of action sequences compared to the number of dialogue-driven scenes that were in it, so if you’re hoping for a shootout to appear every five to ten minutes, you might be a bit disappointed. The action was mildly enjoyable, especially the third act, but they’re neither memorable or thrilling. Besides its average story and its mediocre execution, the only major flaw I had with the film was that the first act felt a bit rushed, which might have explained its short running time. If they expanded the first act a bit by showcasing more of Mary, it would’ve made the character depth much more convincing for the rest of the film.
Overall, “Proud Mary” is nothing to be proud of, but Taraji P. Henson’s first attempt as an action star is an enjoyable treat nonetheless. While the story won’t impress most of the strong-minded critics, I can surely bet that it will satisfy people who enjoy some of Henson’s other works. Oh, before I forget, the film does include the Tina Turner version of the song “Proud Mary” in case you’re wondering.