Get Rich or Die Tryin’
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Jim Sheridan
scr Terence Winter
with Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, Terrence Howard, Joy Bryant, Tory Kittles, Ashley Walters, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Bill Duke, Mpho Koaho, Omar Benson Miller, Viola Davis, Sullivan Walker, Serena Reeder
release US 9.Nov.05, UK 20.Jan.06
05/US Paramount 1h57

A hustler's ambition: Bryant and Jackson

howard walters akinnuoye-agbaje

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Get Rich or Die Tryin' Loosely based on Jackson's life, you feel this film straining to be another 8 Mile, even as it never gets into the head of its central character, who seems to drift aimlessly through his own story.

As he grows up in a tough New York neighbourhood, Marcus (Jackson) is kept clean by the tenacity of his mother (Reeder). But once she's gone, when he's 12, he descends into a life of violent crime, all while maintaining a dream to be a rapper. Eventually, a prison stint and two friends--one old (Bryant) and one new (Howard)--help him break the cycle. But he still has to face the music ... and his old gang.

For a film about driving, desperate ambition, it's amazing how little motivation Marcus seems to have. Jackson looks great on screen, but never shows much personality as an actor, and as a result he blends in with the scenery and lets the rest of the cast steal his limelight. This makes the film vaguely watchable, simply because the cast is so strong, but it feels bland and aimless as a result.

Strongest among the supporting cast, of course, is Howard, who wakes up the movie whenever he's on screen, adding the authentic humanity the film so badly needs. Bryant brings a sense of soulful yearning. Akinnuoye-Agbaje is rather scary as a fiercely ambitious thug, while Kittles and Walker add texture as Marcus' gang buddies.

But the script makes the mistake of including too many characters (and dragging on too long); halfway through it we're feeling numb. And the blame has to lie with Sheridan, who tries far too hard to show us tough life on the mean streets, with constant violence, vengeance, drugs and general urban chaos. When Marcus' grandma (Davis) says, earnestly, "I got a knife in the drawer, and that's all any mother knows," we don't know whether to laugh or cry. And right up to the gooey finale, the film's message seems to be that every crisis can be solved with some heavy-handed violence. Not good.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence, drugs, nudity 16.Jan.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Get Rich or Die Tryin' zack page, america: 5/5 "its dop man its the best film in the world 50cent is excellent in the film." (29.Mar.07)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall