With the exception of the awesome action sequences and Mary's change of vocation, I was mostly wrong about the storyline. For starters, Jahi Di'Allo Winston's character Danny is not her son. How she ends up in his orbit is the film's biggest twist, and its unanticipated (though, parts of their initial interaction are written clumsily). Her personal history and collaborative relationships are also a bit more complex than imagined. Alongside her are Benny (Danny Glover) and Tom (Billy Brown), who tread the line between 'ally' and 'enemy.' As usual, Glover brings his master-class skills, easily alternating between the two modes. In this role, he's most delicious when Benny is feeling nefarious. Fans who are used to watching Brown play the harmed good-guy on ABC's How to Get Away with Murder will have fun seeing a different side of the actor. As for Henson, she's as reliable and proficient as always.
The 70's style promotional artwork and music made me worry I was in for a campy, new-age take on black exploitation movies. Thankfully, the only calls to that were a black woman kicking butt and a vintage soundtrack that included the Temptations and, of course, Tina Turner. Turner's signature cover of "Proud Mary" was effectively used at the thrilling climax, and into the credits. It was a blast hearing the audience sing along and hair flip in unison.
Babak Najafi's Proud Mary is indeed compact, but it doesn't feel stuffy or rushed. The tangled webs, sturdy performances and cool stunts make it a good 88 minutes. It's not the total throwaway it appears to be.