Taraji P. Henson starring an action film as a glamorous assassin isn't something we thought we needed until we saw the trailer for Proud Mary. Now we're just upset that the movie won't come out until 2018.
The trailer, which is soundtracked to the classic Tina Turner version of the song from which it takes its name, opens with Henson's Mary getting ready for her day with some exercise, a shower, and putting on some makeup. At that point, her character could just be preparing for a normal day. For all we know she could be a lawyer, a teacher, a SoulCycle instructor... We just don't know until she casually starts zipping and buttoning herself into some head-to-toe black leather and goes into her closet to select her gun for the day. Turns out, her character is an elite contract killer for the Boston mob.
Then we get a montage of shoot outs, fast cars, explosions, a wig change, and quick shot of Hennessy. As one would expect from Iranian-Swedish film director Babak Najafi, perhaps best known for directing high octane action thriller London Has Fallen. Check out the trailer for yourself here:
The plot seems to take a twist away from your standard "bang! bang! shoot 'em up!" when Mary encounters a young boy. The log line indicates he may be the person who gets Mary to reconsider her life as an assassin for hire.
Hollywood is in the midst of something of a female-fronted action film renaissance. Charlize Theron continues to kick butt in a number a movies, and will continue to do so next weekend in Atomic Blonde. (We think that means Theron should very much inherit the mantle of James Bond. That may or may not happen, but Bond's producers did recently announce a new franchise concerning Blake Lively as an assassin.) Scarlett Johansson in Lucy was a notable standout, and Alicia Vikander is set to revive Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider Lara Croft. This is also, of course, a summer box office season that has been completely dominated by Wonder Woman.
Though, Hollywood has been slower to give women of color those same action film opportunities. Hopefully Henson can help correct that. It's not like actresses of color haven't made legendary action stars before. Please look at Pam Grier's entire career as an example. Her work in Blaxpotation films is legendary (and her Oscar snub for her work in Quintin Tarantino's Jackie Browne might as well have been the original /#OscarsSoWhite).
Mary pays homage to Grier's films with its poster and title font, though hopefully the film and Henson (who had a supporting part as an assassin once before in 2007's Smokin' Aces) can help redefine the black female action star for a new generation. We'll see when the flick is released in January 2018.
Taraji P. Henson Is the American Dream: