GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'
Young Marcus (Marc John Jefferies) has always wanted to be a rapper, but when his mother (Serena Reeder) is murdered, he turns to dealing - hustling drugs to buy food. And when he grows up (Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson), a big white Mercedes 500. But his world spirals out of control; only his grandmother (Viola Davis), girlfriend Charlene (Joy Bryant), and violent-but-loyal friend Bama (Terrence Howard) keep him grounded. He begins to apply the same manic intensity to his writing as he does to dealing; he has to write down his words to stay sane. For years he endures this living hell until he is almost killed. Finally Marcus changes his life.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
"It's not so much my life story, as it is a story that has incidents similar to some that happened in my life," says 50 Cent, whose debut album was also called Get Rich or Die Tryin'. It is tempting to put the film down as the biggest and most expensive music video to promote an album, or a singer, but for the fact that Jim Sheridan makes it more than that. (Besides, the album has gone 6 x platinum and has already been superseded by his latest one.) Certainly the life of an orphaned black kid whose life of crime nearly kills him before an epiphany sets him on a new course as an instant hip hop singing star is begging to be put on film.
The pop culture of 50 Cent's music and contemporary film are joined at the hip hop, as it were, and the dramatic material offers fans a sensational ride. (As Sheridan notes, "the rap world is closer in structure to film than any other form of music because of its narrative underpinning.") If the story is a bit blurred at times, and the characters are sketched with the brutal angularity of hip hop lyrics, all the better. Pity there aren't subtitles, though, as quite a bit of dialogue and a lot of the crucial lyrics of key songs are impossible to decipher; maybe it's just me.
Violence and gangsterish behaviour are the currency of the film (his music career really starts as the film finishes - a bit of a shame, really), and even in his redemption, Marcus seems alienated and alone, despite having the caring and beautiful Charlene by his side. Yet I don't feel totally satisfied with the emotional payoff, perhaps because it's so hard to associate with the characters, despite the fine performances. Fans, of course will love it.
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GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN' (MA15+)
CAST: Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, Joy Bryant, Viola Davis, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Omar Benson Miller, Tory Kittles, Terrence Howard, Ashley Walters, Marc John Jefferies, Sullivan Walker
PRODUCER: Dr Dre, Jimmy Iovine, Chris Lighty, Heather Perry
DIRECTOR: Jim Sheridan
SCRIPT: Terence Winter
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Declan Quinn
EDITOR: Roger Barton, Conrad Buff IV
MUSIC: Quincy Jones, Gavin Friday, Maurice Seezer
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Geraghty
RUNNING TIME: 134 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 19, 2006