Director: Babak Najafi
Screenplay: John S. Newman, Christian Swegal, Steve Antin
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Billy Brown, Danny Glover, Neal McDonough, Xander Berkeley, Margaret Avery
Runtime: 88 Minutes
If you were to come to a Proud Mary expecting the Blaxploitation throwback picture that the pumped-up marketing material for the film has been presenting, you’ll probably walk away more than a little disappointed by the product that is actually is. Although the posters and trailer have been excitedly pushing the angle of a throwback, retro-influenced action thriller, beyond the opening credits and an action sequence near the finish playing out to the titular song cover by Tina Turner, it’s more straight-faced than whatever it’s being sold as.
In fact, the only real gimmick that it has is in casting the reliable Taraji P. Henson as the central action heroine as opposed to any number of generic white male starts. Henson’s Mary is a successful hitwoman working for an organized crime family in Boston. However, her life is completely shifted when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when she performs a professional hit that leaves the boy orphaned rather than kill him, and events spiral out of her trying to protect the child.
It's pretty easy to decipher the how’s and why’s of its generally formulaic storytelling, and doesn’t really offer much else of surprise beyond the sight of Henson kicking ass in a way that she hasn’t since Smokin' Aces. The action is well staged by Babak Najafi, this being his second English language feature, and it’s brief and passably entertaining if very little else.