I recently went back and read my review of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” It was an eye-opening experience for me as a critic.
Originally, I actually really liked the film, but subsequent viewings proved that my initial praise was misguided. “Batman v Superman” is an awful movie. It’s just terrible and I’ll admit, I wanted to love it and that honestly skewed my perspective.
Sometimes I have a habit of wanting to like a film so desperately that I’m willing to ignore the basic problems it may possess. Well, not today. Sure, there’s still a part of me that wants to say that “Proud Mary” is a well-made action film, but it’s not. It’s drab, uninteresting, and lacks any style.
Taraji P. Henson (“Empire,” “Hidden Figures”) plays Mary, a hitwoman for a crime syndicate in Boston. After killing the father of Danny (Jahi Di’Allo Winston, “Feed the Beast”), she finds him caught up in the rival gang. Feeling guilt for indirectly putting Danny in his predicament, she saves him from the life of crime, killing his boss in the meantime. The assassination, however, proves unsavory and the two crime families find themselves in a war, with Mary and Danny caught in the middle.
Let’s get the praise out of the way first.
If there’s one thing “Proud Mary” did that caught my eye was the fact that Mary is the root of all the conflict in the film. She’s the one constantly making mistakes and the cause of her life falling apart. It’s a nice change of pace in the genre, noting that there is no central villain to stir up any inciting incidents.
Along with that, the final shootout is awesome. It’s plenty violent, a heck of a lot of fun and there’s a great cover of “Rolling Down the River” that accompanies the action. Also, Taraji is pretty great. It’s clear she’s putting her all into her performance, even if those around her put forth far less effort.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film is surprisingly boring.
The bulk of the running time focuses on the relationship between Mary and Danny. These scenes are always uninteresting and the quality of the dialogue and acting is inconsistent. The story also feels the need to hit all the beats one would expect in an action/crime drama.
Then there’s the editing, which is some of the worst I have ever seen. There was one specific moment where four individuals were carrying on a conversation and the restless editing couldn’t stop cutting from actor to actor. Even in the middle of short, brief lines, the editor couldn’t resist cutting to something else. I doubt a cut lasted longer than five seconds, making an otherwise uninteresting scene impalpable. The editing even makes the action in the first two acts incredibly difficult to follow.
However, it’s the soundtrack that is “Proud Mary’s” greatest stumbling block.
It’s drab, consisting of standard action musical ques that fail miserably at stirring emotion or ramping up the intensity. The score is one of the worst I’ve ever heard. It would have been nice to hear more licensed songs; anything to break up the monotony of the absolutely horrid soundtrack and give the film an ample amount of soul.
That’s the best way to describe this movie. It’s soulless. Rather than being aesthetically unique and beautiful, “Proud Mary” resorts to bland character development and uninteresting set pieces. It’s a real shame because I really wanted to like the film, but I’m not going to lie to myself like I did with “Dawn of Justice.” “Proud Mary” is a bad movie and you should give it a hard pass.