Get Rich or Die Tryin'

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson joins Queen Latifah, Ice Cube, Ice-T, LL Cool J, Emimem, Andre Benjamin and others in making the transition from rapper to rapper-actor with Get Rich or Die Tryin', loosely based on events in his own life.  Unfortunately for Jackson, he is less Emimem and more Mariah Carey.  One of the problems is that this film is the same movie as Hustle & Flow, and to a lesser degree, 8 Mile.  And the former is a much better film, with a much better lead (Terrence Howard, who, incidentally, is also here).

Jackson is the weakest element in the film.  As a performer on stage rapping, he is dynamic.  He is not a good actor.  Jackson delivers his lines in a monotone, and his facial expression rarely changes.  There is not much change in his performance, even as his character Marcus gets angry or sad.  And since he is on screen for so much of the film, he literally sucks the life out of the story like some sort of vampire.  The only time he has any sort of charisma is near the end when he is performing.  Jackson fares even worse when compared to his co-stars.  Howard (Four Brothers, Hustle & Flow) and Joy Bryant (The Skeleton Key, Spider-Man 2) infuse their characters with a depth of emotion that Jackson is incapable of reaching.  If it makes him feel any better, Howard was not much of a rapper in Hustle & Flow.

The story is pretty familiar at this point, only because 50 Cent is such a high profile rapper and because the story seems to come directly from a movie.  As a child, Marcus never knew his father.  His mother (Serena Reeder) was a drug dealer, and was soon killed.  Marcus grew up wanting to rap, but turned to drug dealing in order to survive.  He was good at what he did, rising quickly through the ranks in New York.  He spent time in jail, and at one point was shot nine times and survived.  During this time, he still nurtured his burgeoning talent for rapping, until he was able to stop dealing and focus on rapping.

Get Rich or Die Tryin' is also a disappointment for director Jim Sheridan (In America, The Boxer).  The story just seems so simplistic.  There is very little depth to the Marcus character in Terence Winter's script.  The most interesting people are his antagonists.  The story, as odd as it sounds, is too predictable.  There have been enough films about drug dealers turned rap stars to create a subgenre.  Aside from the fact that the events here are based on reality, there is nothing to distinguish this film from the others.  The emotional power in the film should come from listening to Marcus talk about his life and his problems through his songs.  Unfortunately, the songs sound a bit generic, below the level of typical 50 Cent fare.  Sheridan really drops the ball in the last act, where cheap gangster cliches take over turning the film into a spurt of violence.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
2 hours, 14 minutes, Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content, sexuality, and nudity.

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