Sometimes, critics are just wrong. In this week’s Movie Resurrection, we see if 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ can be brought back from the dead.
In this feature, we take another look at movies that weren’t initially well-received and, being the kind, compassionate souls that we are, we see if we can find some good in them. The rules are simple: we take films that were butchered by critics or the audience at the time of release and re-evaluate. The films in question must have either an IMDb rating of 5.0 or below or a Metacritic score of 50 or below. The producers of each movie considered must then write to Screen Robot thanking us for our saintly actions. One of these rules is easier to enforce than the other.
To kick off the inaugural edition of Movie Resurrection, it’s the turn of…
Get Rich or Die Tryin’
Dir: Jim Sheridan
Starring: Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis
IMDb rating: 4.4/10
Metacritic score: 45/100
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ surprised me from the outset. All I knew about the film was that it was set in the Middle East, with Mr Cent playing some kind of mercenary. It soon transpired that I had confused Get Rich or Die Tryin’ with another of 50 Cent’s media cash-ins, the video game 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand, which went some way to explaining why the anonymous Middle Eastern country looked suspiciously like New York City.
I was expecting a dumb, loud, possibly racist shoot-em-up; instead I found a reasonably interesting rags-to-riches drama
This was a most welcome surprise. I had been expecting a dumb, loud, possibly racist action shoot-em-up; instead I found a reasonably interesting rags-to-riches drama. The film is an autobiographical account of Fiddy’s own life, which lends some credence to what is otherwise a fairly run-of-the-mill story of one man’s desire to rise out of poverty and make something of himself, albeit through initially nefarious and generally not very nice ways.
The most remarkable thing about Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is its choice of director: Jim Sheridan, best known for his collaborations with Daniel ‘Oh Not Another Bloody Oscar’ Day-Lewis on the films My Left Foot and In The Name Of The Father. And it may indeed seem odd that a white Dubliner was hired to direct a film about the plight of an inner city African-American drug dealer turned rapper.
Sheridan’s direction is simple, often visceral, particularly during a vicious prison knife fight, conducted entirely in the nude, a fight reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises (which came out two years after Get Rich or Die Tryin’ – I like to imagine that, in his darkest moments, Cronenberg turns to 50 Cent for inspiration). The film’s good standout performance comes from Terrence Howard, whose charismatic turn as Bama, Fiddy’s cellmate-turned-manager, holds much of the intrigue in the latter half of the movie.
The film’s bad standout performance comes from Mr 50 Cent himself. Fiddy’s face, body and voice are in approximately 85% of the scenes in the movie, but whatever charisma, personality and appeal he may otherwise claim to possess appear in approximately 1-5% of the movie. Thankfully, the supporting performances are strong enough to carry the film, which leaves us with something akin to an experimental piece of theatre where the actors perform alongside a statue, like something that fell down the back of Harold Pinter’s desk.
Dubious lead performance aside, Get Rich is more than a vacuous movie cash-in for an already hugely successful musician
It’s a wonder that 50 Cent ever gets taken seriously as rapper in the movie, as his diction is simply appalling. It appears as though, in preparation for the role, he watched the worst films from Marlon Brando’s not-unquestionable career and decided that the key to acting was to constantly mumble. If you do intend on watching Get Rich or Die Tryin’, please be aware that the next sentence contains something of a spoiler – during an attempt on Fiddy’s life, he gets shot in the mouth, which inexplicably makes him a better rapper. There may well be more pain in his voice, but there certainly isn’t any more clarity or discernable words.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was obviously a vehicle for 50 Cent’s acting career (not always a bad thing). However, as vehicles go for musicians aspiring to be actors, this has more than meets the eye. Dubious lead performance aside, it has a story with enough content to hold your attention over two hours, solid direction from a seasoned director and has a good go at being something more than a vacuous movie cash-in for an already hugely successful musician.
All images: Paramount Pictures