A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Proud Mary is about a mob enforcer (Taraji P. Henson) who gets caught up in a war between crime families. Expect plenty of crime/assassin-style violence, with tons of unrealistic gunfights involving automatic weapons, as well as some hand-to-hand combat. Nothing is particularly gory or extreme, though there is one scene of torture with a nail gun, and a kid is hit hard by an adult. Language includes frequent use of words like "f--k," "s--t," and more; drugs are dealt but not shown being used. There's no particular reason to show this film to viewers of any age unless they're Henson fans or love badly staged gunfights.
What's the story?
Mary (Taraji P. Henson) is a mob enforcer, and apparently good at her job. But during one hit, she orphans a young boy, Danny (Jahi Di'Allo Winston), and is haunted by the guilt. She follows Danny's rough life for a year and decides to take him in. Along the way, Mary sparks a war between her crime family and a Russian one. Can she juggle caring for Danny, fighting off the Russians, and keeping the secret of her involvement in starting the mob war from her crime family boss, Benny (Danny Glover), and his son, Tom (Billy Brown) -- her ex? And will they ever let her out of the family business?
Is it any good?
This action film's lack of originality and cleverness is made worse by a self-defeating visual style and overuse of music. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the main character is an ace killer who wants out of the biz after bonding with a kid. Her bosses "love" her but won't let her go. Unfortunately, Mary's sudden emergence of a conscience is unconvincing, considering her continued mass murders. Might not those men also have families? Mary has killed untold numbers of people, but once in a while seems squeamish. Odd. The folks behind Proud Mary seem to have decided against character development, so there's nothing to distinguish one person from another in terms of their behavior. In other words, there's nothing to identify Mary as "proud" other than the inevitable misuse of the song during a shoot-out. The dialogue is flat and predictable, and the action scenes are uninterestingly executed, with no tension or wow factor.
All this is compounded by hyperactive editing that seems flat-out inappropriate in most scenes, especially the quieter ones. All the excessive cutting prevents the scenes from having any flow. It actually makes the film hard to watch at times -- not because of the speed of the edits, but because it feels like someone keeps rhythmically hitting the "previous channel" key on a remote control. Likewise, the music is egregiously overused; much of the film is underscored as if to indicate a moment of heartbreaking revelation. And then there's the fact that the many, many gunfights seem to depend on the bad guys having terribly poor aim. Only Brown, as Mary's ex and the mob boss's son, makes an impact. But otherwise, Proud Mary is a style-less exercise that wastes some talent.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes Proud Mary different from other movies about mob assassins. They're usually male, for one thing; what difference does Mary's gender make here?
Did you believe the reason that Mary was pushed out of the murder-for-hire business? Did you see a change in her character? Is it important to see that change?
For kids who love action and thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.