"Get Rich or Die Tryin'"
Directed by Jim Sheridan.
Written by Terence Winter.
Starring Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Terrence Howard, Joy Bryant
and Bill Duke.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 11/15/05
like 50 Cent's music...but, his movie is just so-so. That's
not because the story behind "Get Rich or Die Tryin'"--the new film
based on the life of Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson--isn't interesting...it's
because 50 is playing himself.
Watching the chronicles of how 50 grew up in
New York, you get an idea of how tough things must have been on the
future rap star; his mom was murdered when he was 12, he turned to
drug dealing to get by, and he witnessed his fair share of bodybags
while growing up in the streets. Working under a local kingpin
named Majestic (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Marcus (that's 50 to you
and me) is an all-world performer in the streets, and after pushing
the Colombians out of his dealing territory Marcus becomes the cream
of the crop faster than you can say "Nino Brown." Soon after
he reaches the top (note: I think he was maybe 21 at this
point in the film), he reunites with a childhood friend, Charlene
(Joy Bryant), and they rekindle those days of playing "Operation"
together real quick-like. Meanwhile, more drama unfolds in the
streets, leading Marcus to prison...and it is there that Marcus gets
serious about his love of the rap game. Cue the lights!
As clichéd as this storyline is--even IF 50
Cent lived out this scenario--director Jim Sheridan (the Irish guy
that has directed three of Daniel Day-Lewis's films in addition to
"In America") somehow keeps this puppy moving thanks to just
enough interesting characters and gang violence to not make you
think you are watching yet another urban drug drama. Also
working against this film: the more powerful Eminem
"8 Mile" and
this year's more original
Flow." Worse: Terrence Howard, the star of that
latter flick, is the sidekick of Marcus in "Get Rich...", making the
film feel even more familiar than it needs to. All of that
said, the movie feels a bit tired only because of the recent films
that it reminds you of, not because it isn't good.
The real issue for me is the lead actor
himself, 50 Cent. The tunes are great, that's easy. But
50 as an actor isn't as interesting as I thought he would be; he
also seems to be grinning through almost everything that happens to
his character, which is partially his natural expression but also
his easygoing nature when it comes to...well, anything at all.
What works with 50's music is just how crazy-chill he is on the mic;
what doesn't work with his acting (which you have to imagine is how
50 is in real life) is that he seems to be sleepwalking through
almost everything. Rappers being rappers, I'm sure that 50
never considered having an actor play out his life, but I think it
would have made "Get Rich..." a much stronger film. It was so
glaring to me that I was left gasping when the Charlene character--a
graceful, beautiful woman that is looking forward to a career as a
dancer--was like "Damn, I'm down for some Marcus!" and took up with
him romantically right away. How am I supposed to buy into
The soundtrack is hot, as expected, and some
of the scenes really are powerful, none more so than the film's
sequence (and real-life re-enactment, apparently) when Marcus is
nearly gunned down by a former colleague. It's a legendary
story, but can you imagine getting shot nine times and not dying?
NINE TIMES???? It's almost O.J.-in-"The Naked Gun"-funny, the
idea that someone could get shot at point-blank range that many
times and not die, but it really happened and it's shocking to watch
50 play out the sequence as an actor that almost ended his real
life. Most of the support is solid; in addition to Howard and
Bryant, longtime character actor Bill Duke is brief but powerful and
Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays the heavy with a cool smoldering eyes effect,
in addition to being a total bastard.
Overall, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" isn't bad,
but it's really nothing to write home about. The awesome music
sequences in "8 Mile" and "Hustle and Flow" put this film to shame,
but outside of that, all three share a similar element of
rags-to-nicer-rags mentality that is engaging. Now, on to that
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard