Proud Mary (2018)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/13/18
Executive Producer: Taraji P. Henson
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Billy Brown, Jahi Di'Allo Winston, Danny Glover, Neal McDonough

Mary (Taraji P. Henson) is a highly skilled hitwoman working for a crime family in Boston. Her world gets turned upside when she rescues a street rat named Danny (Jahi Di'Allo Winston) and her actions incite war with a rival gang. There's also some family drama and romantic tension thrown in for good measure. When everything comes to a head, the only way for Mary to survive is to kill everyone in the organization and become the last woman standing.

The opening credits start out with a delightful homage to 70's action cinema, but the film fails to deliver the goods. It's an entertaining, but solidly mediocre outing, which is especially disappointing after last year's crop of female action films like "Atomic Blonde" and "The Villainess." Taraji P. Henson is wonderful throughout, and the film revolves around her fierce charisma. It's not her first time being an assassin (remember "Smokin' Aces?" (2006) ), and she handles a gun nicely. Unfortunately, the fight scenes are a bit weak and shot mostly shot in the dark, which makes it hard to see what's going on. I suppose that could be considered a throwback to 70's action cinema as well, but I found it frustrating. The acting is very good, although the emotions are inconsistent and Mary's maternal motivations are confused and overplayed. Jahi Di'Allo Winston is a talented and convincing young actor, and Danny Glover makes a compelling and intimidating crime boss. Billy Brown gives a strong performance and complements Henson's character nicely as both a friend and rival. The pacing is pretty slow and the action is sparse, and while final assault is exciting, it's ultimately too little and too late. Additionally, having Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" playing over the scene is distracting and ruins the dramatic and cinematic rhythm. However, given the film's low budget, it does a remarkable job with the resources that were available.