As if we needed another reason to love Taraji P. Henson.
Lately, there's been a rise in action movies with leading ladies (i.e. Atomic Blonde/Red Sparrow). But standing out from the crowd is Taraji P. Henson's, Proud Mary.
I've been excited to see this movie ever since I first saw the preview, though I wasn't too sure what it was all about at first. I just new Taraji was playing a woman named Mary who knew how to sling a gun like nobodies business. Luckily, it pretty much lived up to my expectations. In the film, Taraji stars as the titular assassin, who's indebted to the Boston mob that took her in as a young runaway and taught her how to shoot a gun. But after completing a hit, Mary realizes that her target’s young son Danny is now an orphan, and her guilt for killing his father leads her to spend the next year keeping tabs on him and eventually taking him under her wing.
The film opens up with a ’70s-inspired credit sequence that nods to its blaxploitation roots and Taraji consistently spits badass, action-movie one-liners throughout the entire 88-minute run. Most reviews I've read were disappointed in the lack of killer action sequences in the film, but I think the lack of them is why I liked it so much. Sure it wasn't what I would consider being the greatest movie of all time, but it was an original premise with enjoyable characters.
Unlike the other assassin-action films I've seen, Proud Mary tapped into the humanity of the person behind such a ruthless job. Mary's (Henson) many emotions gives the audience a chance to look at a killer in a way we haven’t before and shows us that no matter how terrible the things they do are sometimes, they still have hearts. (Disclaimer: I don't think this applies to every killer in the world)
At the beginning of the film — when Mary is fiercely applying mascara and pulling up her thigh-high boots — she's definitely not the nurturing type. But as time goes on she's determined to help and protect Danny, which brings out her motherly roots. And one of the funniest lines is when another character questions this and pisses Mary off. I won't spoil her clap back, but it will definitely make you go "yes, girl!" Danny's reluctance and attitude is the perfect match for Taraji's character and in a weird way gave me Cookie/Hakeem vibes (circa Empire).
In addition to every scene where Mary's sleek ride pulled up to her dreamy loft, my favorite had to be towards the end. I won't give away what exactly was happening, but let's just say Mary storms into a warehouse on a rescue mission, guns blazing, tires squealing, and with Tina Turner blasting. As Tina sings the titular theme song, Mary mows down bad guy after bad guy, taking out henchmen with a ruthless ease.
Proud Mary might not exactly be the female version of Scarface or John Wick, but it's a damn good movie showing a side of black women we've never really seen before. That's what I love about Taraji: she's always been committed to taking on a variety of different roles and I for one can't wait to see what she does next.
My only complaint with this movie: Spoiler alert — that Billy Brown wasn't a good guy. Though, it was kind of funny to see someone else besides Viola Davis' character on How To Get Away With Murder treat him like shit for once. Poor Nate.
My recommendation: Definitely go see! And once you do, let me hear what you thought in the comments!