Proud Mary (2018): A Movie Review Essay
I pride myself on not talking about movies that everybody else is talking about, here, on Hub Pages — unless I can say something new and different about them — unless I think I have an opinion that cuts across the grain, as it were.
You know what would have made this Taraji P. Henson action hero vehicle great?
The answer is a more original and morally consistent plot that was more worthy of the time of one of the most dynamic acting talents and charismatic big screen presences of the last fifteen years: Miss Taraji P. Henson.
What should have happened in the film?
Suppose Henson (an operative/assassin for an organized crime operation headed by Danny Glover) killed the target she was supposed to kill (as she did) and that there was a child present in another room (as there was).
But instead of a pre-teen, oblivious to everything because he is listening to loud music, or something on his headphones — he is an infant in his crib. Suppose that Henson instantly decides to take the baby and raise him as her own son.
Suppose Henson trains the boy, from the time he can walk, in how to use weapons of all kinds, from blades to guns, and everything in between — and how to make any object he touches a weapon. She instructs him in her extensive knowledge of martial arts, surveillance, explosives, infiltration, the works.
The makers of this film, as we have it, seem to have been a bit behind the times. Action films from the Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and even Pierce Brosnan-eras of James Bond (007) films made an exponential leap forward when studios started to put real time, money, and outside professional expertise in teaching the actors playing the main characters in action films — HOW TO ACTUALLY FIGHT AND SHOOT!
Henson and the actor who would play her adopted “son” should have trained by outside consultants for two years in martial arts and shooting.
Henson, as a loyal operative of the organized crime operation, should have raised her son to by a loyal and effective operative for the same operation.
One problem I had with Proud Mary was motivation. I did not believe Henson’s character motivation.
Assassin Henson killed a particular target, with his preteen son in another room, oblivious to everything because of his headphones.
She leaves unnoticed and goes about her life.
Having no means of support without his father, the boy falls into a life of petty crime, spending at least part of the time semi-homeless.
Henson becomes aware of the unfortunate child, at some point; and we are give to understand that she makes a point of watching him — from a distance. However given the daily trauma the boy endures, it is not clear why she does not intervene long before the point at which she finally does.
In other words: THIS IS A MAJOR SITUATIONAL AND MORAL PLOT HOLE!
She finally intervenes, rescues the boy, and indeed assassinates the small-time crime lord the boy has been working for. You see, apparently, the small-time crime lord had been in the habit of physically abusing the boy.
Over the course of time with the boy, Henson starts to feel bad about the whole organized crime thing, and how it set her on a path of taking the boy’s father away from him, blah, blah, blah…
Excuse me a minute, while I run to the toilet…
As an organized crime operative/assassin, Henson’s character had to understand that, with each kill, you are taking someone away from someone else. That’s just kind of the way it works.
Now, Henson’s increasing guilt over the fact of killing the boy’s father, takes her to the breaking point to where she decides to resign from the “family business,” as it were, and perhaps leave the criminal lifestyle, itself, behind — and start “fresh,” you might say, with the boy.
You see, Henson never had a good reason for breaking with the organized crime operation.
- They had not mistreated her in any way.
- They had not betrayed her in any way.
- They had not cheated her of any money.
- They had not moved against anyone she cared about.
In fact, the organization had always treated Henson very well, indeed, like family — almost literally, as it almost turned out.
So, Henson should have trained her adopted son to be a loyal, supremely skilled operative/assassin for the crime family led by Danny Glover. But she also should have “trained” her son to have a legitimate side, making sure he did well in school, had friends and interests that have nothing to do with organized crime, and even making sure that he graduated from college, with “marketable” skills in a legal field of employment.
And then, in some way, the boy (let’s call him Roger) finds out that his adopted mother (Henson) killed his father.
Roger confronts Henson and she doesn’t deny it; she doesn’t apologize. She did what she had to do. “And you have to do whatever it is you have to do,” she would say.
They try to kill each other!
There should ensue Kung Fu fighting, Gun Fu, car chases, and what-have-you. The last battle between mother and son assassins should be epic.
At the end of this epic confrontation between two of organized crime’s premier operatives/assassins, Roger manages to prevail. He pulls out a twenty-five caliber pistol and shoots Henson in the heart.
And as she staggers, she says, “Your father is avenged.” And then she falls off the cliff into the raging ocean below.
Roger falls to his knees, sobbing. He is bereft. His father is dead. He has killed his own “mother.” He feels alone, adrift. What is he to do? What is to become of him?
Then his cellphone rings with the answer. A client has a matter he would like “cleared up” in Switzerland.
“I’ll be there in five hours,” Roger says into his phone, picks himself off, dries his tears, and heads for the airport.