By Quedus Babalola
Taraji P. Henson, popularly known for her roles as Cookie Lyon in the hit tv show, “Empire” on FOX and Yvette in the movie “Baby Boy” is now Mary Goodwin in the Sony film, “Proud Mary,” currently playing in all movie theaters. Controversy surrounded the release of the film as SONY’s promotion seemed lackluster. Despite mixed opinions, Henson hyped up the film on her social media accounts. Some audiences were not even aware of the movie until just before its release. “I’m pretty sure this movie isn’t going to resonate well with a lot of people, or it won’t do the numbers [SONY] thought the movie would do when they made Taraji the lead actress,” Taiquasha Williams, a senior criminal justice major, said. “I can’t turn on my tv and see a black woman as the lead person everyday, so SONY knew what they were doing when they casted her.” Henson’s lead role in Empire also attributes to her success, according to Williams. “I only watched the movie because I started seeing commercials two days ago and realized Taraji is in the movie,” she said.
The film takes place in Boston, where Mary is a professional assassin and is one of the most renowned hitmen in town. She works with Tom (Billy Brown), and together they kill individuals whose lives have been paid for by high class gangs. While on a mission, she realized that one of her victims left behind a 10-year-old son, Danny, and chose to spare his life. She ends up “raising” Danny for a while, and when he gets hurt, she fully adopts him as her own. From that moment on, it is the two of them against the world.
Finding the people who hurt Danny, and annihilating them became her next and final mission. It would get her out of her undesirable lifestyle, and she was determined to escape alive with Danny. Mary wanted a new environment, so she distanced herself from Tom and made the clear choice to abandon her hitman job forever. Danny coming into her life brought out her maternal skills and her human feelings.
“They could have scrapped the whole movie honestly, it was basically an audition tape for Taraji to get future roles in action movies,” June Carter, a junior fine arts major, said.
The movie overall is very underwhelming and a bit confusing. Besides the obvious plot and all the action going on, the movie doesn’t have much to offer viewers. Henson was the highlight of the movie as a black actor in the lead role. She was able to show why she deserved to be cast in the film, but at the same time, the movie lacked a straightforward and interesting plot. The controversy that surrounded the release of the movie did not help the film’s opening weekend success because the movie came in eighth place on Billboard and failed to reach the estimated gross income of $20 million during the first weekend.
Numbers aside, Henson has been able to open doors for more black women to be cast in action movies. Gabrielle Union will play the lead actor role in the upcoming action thriller movie, “Breaking In,” which will be released in theaters on Mother’s Day.
“I’m proud of Taraji and everything she has been able to accomplish. I can’t wait to see what else she has to offer this year with her career,” Motunrayo Olusa, a senior business administration major, said. “I’m not a huge fan of this movie, but I know she will deliver and if not her, she’s been able to inspire a whole new group of black women to go and do roles that they aren’t regularly seen in.”