Reviewed by: Francisco Gomez Jr.
Becoming an orphan when young
The importance of COMPASSION
The longterm effects of abuse
What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Is it just “bad people” that are sinners, or are YOU a sinner? Answer
The fall of man to sin
Murder in the Bible
The seriousness of death—and its origin
Feeling guilt and responsibility for past actions
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
|Featuring:||Taraji P. Henson … Mary
Billy Brown … Tom
Jahi Di'Allo Winston … Danny—12-year old boy
Neal McDonough … Walter
Danny Glover … Benny
Margaret Avery … Mina
Xander Berkeley … Uncle
Rade Serbedzija … Luka
Erik LaRay Harvey … Reggie
Adobuere Ebiama … Woman
Owen Burke … Jerome
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|Director:||Babak Najafi—“London Has Fallen” (2016)|
Taraji P. Henson
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Screen Gems, a division of Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Babak Najafi directs “Proud Mary,” featuring Taraji P. Henson (Mary) and Jahi Di’Allo Winston (Danny—a 12-year old boy). The story follows Mary, a hit woman, as she kills an important drug lord in defense of Danny. The gangs are thrust into turmoil as a gang war ensues. Mary has to deal with the situation while protecting Danny. This is as best as I can describe the plot. It is not easy. This is the film’s first problem.
The plot manages to be immensely convoluted while feeling emotionally hollow. This is problematic as the maternal relationship is central to the movie. However, I never felt as if any of the characters really care.
The move is only an hour and thirty minutes, but it feels a lot longer. This does not have to do with Henson’s and Winston’s performances, but rather the film’s inability to construct a relational scene. Viewers are not allowed to focus on the solid acting. The film struggles even with simple dialog. Cutting from close up to close up each time someone speaks. A scene in which Danny makes his bed and Mary applies cosmetics is intercut for no particular reason. This scene summarizes the filmmaking technique, as it unnecessarily jumps from storylines, shots, and locations in a jarring manner.
Dan Laustsen’s cinematography is beautiful—oozing with urban lighting and atmosphere. It must be commended, but poor editing undermines his work. The film’s technical aspects and incongruence is frustrating, as it sabotages an otherwise well intended message of compassion and love. It further undermines itself by glorifying violence in order to make Mary a femme fatale.
Mary and Danny are both orphans. Mentally and physically hurt by abusive fathers, they stumble upon a life of crime that neither of them wanted. It is unfortunate that this happens all too often in real life. In my ministry, I have seen the brokenness that results in growing up in such an environment—an environment that squeezes the joy and life out of individuals stuck in an unending cycle of reciprocating violence. It is not glorious as sometimes portrayed in “Proud Mary.” It is a life full of literal and spiritual chains.
What is Christian LOVE? Answer
As Christians, we may ignore or be uninvolved with those in prisons or struggling with a life of crime. Jesus Christ did not want us in the comfort of our safe congregations, he wanted us out there—in the world.
“I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.” —John 17:15
We must do our best to reach people of all walks of life and show them the way. Maybe some are wondering what is the way.
Violence: This is a R-rated action film. Violence is center stage. The violence is abundant, frequent, and always bloody. There are too many acts to mention explicitly, but the following are the most concerning scenes. Two men are shot in the head on separate occasions—in frame. A man is interrogated while strapped to a chair with a plastic bag over his head. The man is tortured with a nail gun that punctures his hands and feet. He screams in pain. Mary runs over two men with her car. Mary infiltrates a house in which she shoots several men. Danny is slapped unto the floor and walks away visibly hurt. Danny attempts to shoot a man. Danny removes his shirt and there are visible wounds. A wounded Mary cleans her bloody injury in frame. A character is murdered and his bloodied body is in frame for a long period of time. The rest of the violence consists of Mary shooting different people with handguns.
Profanity/Vulgar Language: Disturbingly, a large amount of the bad words come from the young boy Danny. This is referenced various times throughout the film as Danny is told to “watch his mouth.” “G*d-d*mn” (8), “oh J*sus,” “oh my G*d,” “h*ll” (9), “d*mn” (5), “motherf***er,” f-words (2), “a**h*le” (7), “a**” (3), s-words (9), do*chebag,” “t*ts,” “b*tch” (4), “p*ssed.”
Alcohol/Drug Use: Danny delivers cocaine to a henchman. Tom tells Mary that if not for his family she would’ve been nothing but a “guttersnipe” serving cabbies for smack (that is, trading sexual favors for heroin). Several characters and henchmen drink throughout. Mary has a full liquor stand in her apartment.
Sexual Content/Sensuality: Mary is shown showering (full side view), but due to steam nothing explicit is shown. Mary wears a dress that shows cleavage. Mary is hugged from behind by a man who proceeds to run his finger down her chest.
There is no way to sugar coat it, “Proud Mary” is not good. It may have had good intentions, but its flagrant problems cause the audience to become uninvolved and unmoved by the emotional heights the movie tries to reach. The plot and flow of the film is confusing. Lausten does create beautiful shots, but they are marred by the editing. There are solid performances from Henson and Di’Allo, but the audience is not allowed to focus on them. The film inadvertently condones criminal life and extreme violence while trying to condemn it. In my opinion, “Proud Mary” is not worthy (or suitable) entertainment for followers of Christ.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.