Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Proud Mary (2018)

I’ve always wondered how professionals feel about how their professions are portrayed in popular media.  Do police officers look at shows like Law & Order and pick out all the mistakes?  Do doctors look at ER or House and think that medicine is portrayed as overly dramatic?  While watching Proud Mary, I wondered if any hitmen had seen the movie.  Does Taraji P. Henson’s portrayal of a hitwoman named Mary even come close to the reality?  (If you actually do this for a living, I don’t expect a response.)

The movie begins with Mary carrying out a contract.  She kills the target only to realize that his son is in the house.  He’s playing video games with his headphones on, so Mary is able to leave unnoticed.  Fast forward a year and the boy, Danny, is delivering drugs for a man who goes by Uncle.  Uncle is not a nice man.  He either beats or threatens to harm Danny for transgressions like stealing.  (Danny took some money to buy a pastry.)  Mary catches up with Danny after he collapses in an alley. She takes him in, neglecting to mention who she is.

It turns out that Mary works for a crime family that’s competing with Uncle’s family.  Mary has inadvertently started a war between the two families.  Uncle’s side knows that it was Mary’s side, but not Mary specifically.  Benny is the head of Mary’s family.  Benny assures the other side that he’ll look into it and take whatever action is appropriate.  Mary now knows that she has to get out.  She soon realizes that that’s not going to happen.

This is a movie I probably never would have seen without MoviePass.  I don’t even think I would have seen it on DVD.  This is a movie I would have added to my Netflix queue and let sit there until it was about to be removed from the streaming service.  I’m not saying that the movie isn’t entertaining.  My feeling is that a better job could have been done with the material.

The timeline of the movie is pretty straight forward.  I don’t think there were any flashbacks or exposition.  What little history there is tends to be minimal.  Mary was going out with Benny’s Son, although I think that’s only used to explain why he has a key to her place.  Danny tells Mary about what happened in the intervening year, but I get the impression that’s only to explain to the audience why he’s on the street.  Otherwise, we’d be wondering if he doesn’t have any other family.

The story basically serves to prop up the lies Mary has to tell and the gun battles she has to engage in.  I’d say that this is the Lifetime version of Léon: The Professional, but I think that Lifetime could have done a better job with it.  It’s hard to see Mary and Danny as anything more than basic characters.  Mary has a nice apartment and a nice car.  There’s exactly one moment where she tells Danny that she was once like him.  I didn’t sense any depth to the characters.

There are a few characters that serve only to die.  Uncle, for instance, sticks around just long enough for us to get that he’s a horrible person.  Then, Mary kills him.  Poor Walter meets a similar fate.  Mary and Walter work together, but she kills him hoping to make it look like the other family killed him for retribution.

We’re even denied any sort of a happy ending.  Yes, both Mary and Danny survive.  In fact, I think they’re the only main characters that do make it to the end.  However, the end has them simply driving off into the proverbial sunset.  We don’t even know exactly where they’re going.  We just know that it’s over.  I suppose I can at least be thankful for that.

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