Taraji P. Henson Deserves Better Than 'Proud Mary'
Last year, Sony Pictures started running promos for what appeared to be a shoot 'em up, kick-ass female action hero film starring our favorite auntie, Taraji P. Henson. The film is called "Proud Mary". I, like most of the black corners of the internet, were immediately hype as fuck to see this film. How long had it been since we have seen a black woman lead an action movie? I can't even think of one. Pam Grier in the blaxploitation era? The point is, it's been a LONG time. Not only were we getting a black woman leading, but we were getting Taraji P. Henson, a long-underrated actress that finally got the attention she deserves with her role as Cookie, in the Fox show Empire. Black folks have been known about Taraji for decades, but until you please white people, your career doesn't really take off in the entertainment industry. Taraji finally got her shot to be in a big film that appealed to everyone, not just black people and we were ready for it.
So when January 12, 2018, rolled around and Proud Mary was finally released, I was front and center with my ticket. I settled in to watch what, in my mind, was already the best action movie of the year and boy was I disappointed. About 10 minutes into the film, I already knew that this film was about to be a load of crap. Bluntly put—this film is terrible. Not only is it terrible, plot-wise, but they cheated Taraji out of being an action hero. This movie was marketed to us as if it was a modern-day blaxploitation action film. The promos, the trailer, the music, the look was all in reference to blaxploitation . A more modern comparison was Atomic Blonde, we thought it would a movie with a female lead kicking ass. What did we actually get? 90 minutes of Taraji playing a broken, sad and weak black women with 10 minutes of kind of good fighting at the end.
The whole time I was watching this film, I was trying to figure out when the fearless black woman was going to show up. She never did. Mary (Taraji), is a part of a gang—problem number one. She's not even a "good guy", she's not a good character, she's just a hired hitman for a drug cartel. Real orignal, a black person involved with drugs and killing people. Wow, innovation, I tell you.
Mary is ordered to kill this person we know nothing about, and after doing so finds out he has a son. So of course, the entire film is about her and this child, Danny (Jahi Di'Allo Winston). Mary and Danny develop a mother-son type of relationship which leads Mary to fight for his life...in the last 10 minutes of the film. The rest of the film, she's crying, getting shot, whimpering in a corner or scared of this big bad boss, Benny, played by Danny Glover.
Taraji deserves better than this weak film. We deserve better. The entire time I was watching those last 10 minutes of the film, with Taraji jumping out of cars, walking through a wall of bullet fire, and beating up men, I was asking myself why they didn't just give us 90 minutes of this. Do we need to go down the list and name all the films that white women, white men, and even black men, get to have of just being a pure action film? Why are black women not allowed to have the same? There always has to be some bullshit storyline about how she's broken or yearning to have a family. I'm over it. Taraji, just being Taraji is already an action hero enough. This film should have been Mary kicking ass, and leaving niggas in the dust. No shade to this kid because he did a great job, but sir...why are you here? Taraji could have given us the black girl James Bond type character we all want if y'all would just let her. But no, we got this mediocre trash about a gang hitman who has a maternal itch in her uterus. Fuck outta here. Oh and let's not forget the controversy about how Sony didn't screen this film for critics and also did not run much promo for it either. It was clear that Sony's mind was made up from the beginning that this film wasn't worth their time or money, and as a result, we got mediocre.
I'm not even blaming Taraji for this, she did a great job with the materials she was given. And I urge people to still got watch it just to support Taraji and her hard work, but man Sony and white entertainment got me fucked up. Taraji said in an interview that they didn't have time to do any fight training so she relied on her dance background for fighting sequences, so maybe that is the reason we ended up with a no-action, action film. Whatever the excuse is, I don't' really care. Black women deserve a kick-ass action hero and Taraji deserves to stop being low balled by these white films companies.
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