Proud Mary

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
Proud Mary Movie Poster Image
Violence, strong language in shallow mob-killer tale.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Taking responsibility for your actions is somewhat demonstrated by Mary's maternal instincts toward the child she orphaned on a job. But she also kills lots of people along the way, and violence is used as the prime means of conflict resolution, so it's more negative than positive overall.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You could argue that there's empowerment to be seen in Mary's break from the mob -- but she's an assassin, and she accomplishes her escape by killing everybody, everywhere in this particular mob, as well as another one. Most of the main characters are people of color.


Tons of shoot-outs, a few CGI-looking blood spatters, occasional wounds. Most of the violence isn't extreme, but there's one scene of torture in which a nail gun is used on a captive's feet and hands (it's not particularly graphic -- no blood, but lots of screaming). Violence doesn't have much emotional impact, except for one instance of a kid being hit hard by an adult. 


One reference to a character winding up as a prostitute. 


Frequent use of words including "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn," "a--hole," etc.


A Maserati is on view in much of the film.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs are dealt but not shown being used. Background smoking.

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, and background characters smoke. There's no particular reason to show this film to viewers of any age unless they're Henson fans or love badly staged gunfights.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDirector R May 31, 2019
Adult Written byHonest Reviewer 86 July 12, 2018

Unoriginal and Basic

I am a fan of Taraji, but sometimes her acting lapse. She is the executive producer of the movie, therefore no matter how classic or great the actors are, the q... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byQueen.Ainaee January 16, 2018

"Don't walk but RUN to go see it!"

Go support this film! This movie is #amazeballs. It has a serious plot twist and is heart warming. The actors did an wonderful job with the acting! There is a l... Continue reading

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?

  • How did the movie's violence make you feel? Was it thrilling? Upsetting? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • 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? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and thrills

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