On Proud Mary & the Complex Badassery of Black Women

As I am prone to do, I’ll begin this post with a confession. I am not an avid Taraji P. Henson fan. I haven’t seen more than 15 minutes of Baby Boy, I’ve never watched an episode of Empire and before watching Proud Mary I don’t think I could name another movie she has been in. This is not an indictment on her body of work, but rather on where I have been as a consumer. Mea culpa!

This post may contains SPOILERS so if you haven’t seen the movie you may want to put this in your pocket until later. Let’s begin at the beginning shall we?

Sony did a horrible job of promoting this movie. Even if it was done on speculation about what the “Black market” wants they could have hyped it up on social media and other budget friendly marketing tricks to increase the pull. that being said this poster is something they got really right.

Oh the magic and complexity to be found in her fro! How many moments in Mary’s life do we see? How many do we need to spend time perusing slowly to understand? She is the sum of these moments and so many more and yet she stands unbroken and proud in her journey. How do I know she’s proud?  She doesn’t live as if she’s ashamed. She’s in harmony with her destructive power. She incorporates it into her aesthetic. Heck, her guns are arraigned like good jewelry in her closet and it ain’t hard to find them.

I honestly feel as if I could have loved this movie versus really liking it. There was much to enjoy; the complexity of the characters (not deep enough for my liking but more dimension than the usual thug puppets Black people are forced to portray in action movies) and a chance to see a Black woman as extremely powerful in her own right.

Mary was a part of a collective but when push came to shove she didn’t allow anyone to stop her from living her truth, down to killing the man who didn’t value her as she desperately wanted to value him. She wasn’t wanton with her destruction, she was deliberate and accommodating until pushed to her boundaries and left with no choice.

I really only have two serious points of contention and that was how quickly she and the young boy were able to really trust each other. Both of them lived lives that would have made the trust more difficult to arrive at, in my opinion. My second issue is that she didn’t have a single dang on grenade. No C4, nothing at all to blow up a building thus negating her need to kill so many with just a gun.

For it’s more nuanced portrayal of Black womanhood (even an assassin can love) and a cast of Black actors who played their parts well I’ll give the movie a strong 3.5. I would have given it a 4 but she didn’t have no dang on grenades!

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