© United International Pictures GmbH

Get Rich or Die Tryin'
U.S.A. 2005

Opening 12 Jan 2006

Directed by: Jim Sheridan
Writing credits: Terence Winter, Nye Heron
Principal actors: Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joy Bryant, Omar Benson Miller, Tory Kittles

Hip Hop singer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson plays himself (alias Markus) in his own life, growing up in New York City’s Queens. His mother is murdered in a drug deal. Only 12 years old, he follows her footsteps in the drug dealing business, climbing the hierarchy from petty dealer to boss and finally to jail. Crime is only half his life; composing music is the remainder, although still unsuccessfully. In 2000 he is shot down on the street. This experience, as well as the birth of his son, causes him to re-examine his life. He becomes a successful musician. This year he had four records simultaneously on the U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100 charts (the first musician to do this since the Beatles in 1964). This is all true.

Possibly fiction is: Markus/Jackson meets his future manager (Terrence Howard who just appeared in Hustle and Flow) in prison. Joy Bryant as childhood girlfriend Charlene stands by her man. A competitive music manager causes trouble, because he fears competition for his own scrawny, almost white, rapper named Dangerous (who looks about as dangerous as a laboratory mouse). In real life Jackson, dropped by his label, released an independent bootleg, and was helped to success by no less than Eminem.

Violence in this film by Jim Sheridan is mostly gun shots and obscenities in equal measure, with just one teeny-weeny, anesthesia-free tooth-pulling treatment on a drug dealer. The film loses power in the lovey-dovey, soul-searching scenes of Markus alone on the winter beach at Coney Island. The film rests on Jackson, whose acting and charismatic presence carries the movie. It is interesting for contemporary music lovers and Jackson fans. You could say that the message stresses the importance of having a father or that crime does not pay, but I wouldn’t overrate the film’s power to change the world on either of those problems. (Becky Tan)

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