Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Proud Mary, or: They See Me Rollin' on a River

There’s an odd comfort in a mob war movie. Possibly because they’re all taking similar cues from The Godfather or dispensing a brutal but simple version of street justice. However, at the moment, I think the main comfort is seeing a danger that’s easily dealt with and dispensed…which is decidedly not true for the global pandemic and health emergency we’re currently facing. Plus Taraji P. Henson kicking ass is never a bad idea…right?

The Film:

Proud Mary

The Premise:

A hit woman for the mob runs into complications after taking out a target whose young son is in the next room.

The Ramble:

The titular Mary is an assassin for the mob in Boston, with an aim that is precise and unwavering. After many years of efficiently killing for her father figure, Benny, Mary is disturbed one evening when she kills a man whose young son is playing video games in the next room. Wracked with guilt, Mary keeps tabs on the boy, Danny.

An African-American woman sits at a desk, stirring a cup of tea she is holding.

The next year doesn’t go particularly well for Danny. With both parents out of the picture, Danny becomes an errand boy for Uncle, a member of another Boston crime family. Though transporting significant amounts of drugs and cash back and forth, Danny sleeps rough on park benches and is in constant danger from the mob and others lurking in the sketchier parts of town.

A woman wearing a leather jacket walks next to a preteen boy wearing a hoodie as they walk through a park, the cityscape of Boston behind them.

Because Mary has been looking out for Danny, she helps him when he eventually passes out in an alley after receiving a nasty head wound. Suspicious when he wakes up in a stranger’s apartment, Danny is keen to take his backpack and leave. However, Mary first decides to pay Uncle a visit to remind him of his manners. Predictably, things go horribly wrong, and Mary knocks off several members of the rival gang.

Should anyone discover Mary is responsible for the killings, it will spell trouble for both her and her adopted family. To cover her tracks, Mary immediately starts casting doubt around fellow mob member Walter, who has beef with the other family. The only problem is her ex (and Benny’s son) isn’t buying this, but Mary manages to get the ok to take out Walter.

An older African-American man sits in an office chair, wearing a suit. He looks serious and has worry lines across his forehead.

Meanwhile, an attack on Benny and his crew reveals the rival gang’s commitment to escalate the mob war regardless of what happens to Walter. Tom also finds out that Danny is living with Mary and becomes suspicious of this entire arrangement. At Benny’s insistence, Mary and Danny attend a birthday party for his wife. Because her character is written as an idiot, Mary reveals to Benny that she plans to get out of the mob, despite his status as her boss/father figure. Extremely bad idea.

I’m not sure how much more detail I can go into without my eyes rolling into the back of my head. Suffice it to say, things escalate further. The rival mob is a problem, Benny is a problem, and Mary’s assassination of Danny’s father is a problem.

Also an issue? How disappointingly bad this film is.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

Oh my god, every single character in this film is insufferably stupid. Considering two of them are played by Taraji P. Fucking Henson and Danny Glover, this is unforgivable.

This film is almost immediately bad, as things are set up in a way that makes it difficult to care about any of the characters. First, it’s difficult to understand why Mary feels so much guilt about this particular murder of Danny’s father. Surely she’s killed other men in their 30s before, and statistically at least some of them had children? It’s also an odd choice for Mary to intervene only after Danny has experience a head trauma; his life in the entire year leading up to this wasn’t exactly a cake walk. Throughout the film, it seems like Mary has a special connection to Danny, i.e. is secretly his mother(?!?!?!), but this is never a revelation that happens. There needs to be some reason Mary feels connected to Danny–but there never really is, so their relationship, which should be the driving force here, falls miserably flat.

The relationships between the other characters are also incredibly underdeveloped. One: since Benny has been like a father to Mary, you’d think these two characters would know each other better. However, they don’t seem to know each other at all, and have to seriously spell out their exact thoughts and feelings to each other in awfully written dialogue. The same is true for Mary’s relationship with Tom, which used to be romantic, yet now she describes as brotherly? Gross gross gross.

The motivations are also super stupid for all of the characters, and Mary’s eagerness to leave the mob life behind seems to come out of nowhere. We’re given no sense of what’s going on in her brain throughout the film, so her decisions almost never make sense.

On the bright side, we do get a rather nice ass-kicking scene set to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” But it takes us a really long time to get there, and it ends up being too little too late.

Would my blog wife spare this film or unhesitatingly pull the trigger? Read her review here to find out!

2 thoughts on “Proud Mary, or: They See Me Rollin' on a River”

  1. God, I hated this movie. Although you put it way more eloquently than I, our views are completely in sync. I’m so mad. Also, I’m completely with you on why didn’t she step in before he ended up on the streets? Makes no sense whatsoever xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

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