I don't like rap. Personally, I think most of it is garbage. And I'm not some old white guy who can't understand "how youth is degrading with this filth." I am a 23-year old guy who just doesn't understand how this music - if you can call it music - can be so popular.
That being said, I especially don't like 50 Cent. It's not just that I have less respect for people who don't go by their birth names, but I don't think he has any talent. He raps slowly and with a lisp - does getting shot nearly a dozen times make up for slurred lyrics that anyone could talk to along with the beat of keyboard-driven melodies? Honestly, partway through his first movie "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," when he is practicing his rapping, I thought this was him before he finds his magic - then I realized that that is as good as he sounds. Honestly, what the fuck?
So now that all you 50 Cent fans (what the hell are you thinking?) are royally pissed off, I'll admit that I liked "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" much more than I was expecting - and judging from my introduction you can probably guess I wasn't expecting much. Not unlike "8 Mile" in theme but with a much more crime-oriented plot, the movie follows 50 Cent throughout his life, starting out when he was a bright-eyed young kid who moved on to drug dealing after his mom was murdered and set on fire. His drug-dealing leads to an even tougher life, especially when a war begins in his neighborhood between his group and the Colombians. Despite everything that has gone wrong in his life, he still wants to become a rapper - and almost getting murdered himself finally makes him realize that he has a chance.
The movie is helmed by unlikely director Jim Sheridan, who downgraded his acting ability from the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, who has starred in three of his films. To go from "In the Name of the Father" and his latest, the excellent "In America," to "Get Rich" is an odd move, and to deal with a man who has no acting ability and can barely say his English clearly enough is even odder. This is not Sheridan's best movie, and is probably his worst - while a little smarter than the normal crime drama like this, it never really sets itself apart.
The story is quite interesting, though once again it never sets itself apart other than it is generally based on a true story. After all, it is pretty amazing for a man to get shot 9 nine times, including one to the face, and go on to become a major rap star, and the events leading up to that day are also quite interesting. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays Mr. Eko on "Lost," turns in a good performance as the villain, a wicked drug dealer who starts out as a friend to 50 but eventually turns his back on him when the rapper tries to get out. Other supporting cast members are as you'd expect them - much better than the leading star.
Most of the movie is surprisingly engaging, but things begin to fade in the last half hour as it moves out of crime drama and into we've-seen-it-before biopic. Still, "Get Rich" is a moderately entertaining film that has its moments.
"Get Rich or Die Tryin'" isn't anything special, but it certainly isn't the disaster it should have been. Fans of 50 Cent and this genre will find it quite good. Also recommended for parents who want to show their kids a good role model [note sarcasm].
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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