The Get Rich or Die Tryin’ movie trailer sets an audience up for a story that has been told so many times before: hustler on the street has an epiphany and decides to change his ways by turning to rap. Not an original story.
The movie is supposed to be a lose adaptation of 50 Cent’s life (50 said in an MTV interview that the movie was 70% his life story with some dramatization). That’s been done before too (“8 Mile” anyone?). In a typical “hood rags to riches” story 50 Cent (who’s real name is Curtis Jackson) tries his hand on the big screen, and though it’s based on a true story, the results are simply average.
”Get Rich” starts out following Marcus (50 Cent) and a group of his friends as they are robbing a check cashing store. They get away, but as Marcus is returning home he is shot 9 times and left for dead. In a voice over, Marcus acknowledges that he is probably going to die, and the rest of the movie is a flashback that shows how he got to that point.
The movie follows Marcus from a young boy living in the Bronx (50 is from Queens) with his crack-dealing mother, “Everyone loved my mother,” said young Marcus, “that probably why I don’t know who my father is.” When his mother is brutally killed, Marcus goes to live in his grandparent’s house which is already packed with other family members. As he grows up, he becomes more and more calloused, and more and more determined to follow his mother’s drug-dealing footsteps so that he can “make that money.”
When he gets older he is immersed in the drug dealing life, taking orders from Mafia-type higher ups such as drug kingpin Mr. Majestic (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) or the “big boss” that rules all of the drug crews on the streets. They are all in the middle of a gang war with the Columbians in the neighborhood, so bullets fly almost as wildly as the cliches in this movie.
No movie would be complete without the love interest and this role is played by Charlene, Marcus’ childhood friend. She was sent away by her step-dad when he heard a rap by Marcus that contained graphic lyrics about what he would do to her in the bedroom. The two are reunited as adults, and the attraction is instant. Eventually, Charlene becomes the mother of Marcus’ baby.
Marcus eventually gets arrested thanks to the drugs he’s dealing and is sent to prison. In prison he decides that he is done with the drug game and becomes a rapper. After he is released, he shuns the old people he used to hang out with (even recording songs to diss them) and works on getting a record deal. But the life he is trying to leave won’t necessarily leave him.
Eventually, matters are resolved (albeit violently) in a very bad ending, then Marcus treats a crowd and the audience to a rap song.
50’s acting performance is not as bad as one might expect from a rapper, but it isn’t notable either, especially considering the fact that this is supposed to be his own life that he’s acting. Many times he looks bored, like he’d rather be anywhere else than delivering stale lines like, “"I had it all. But still, something was missing." And the movie is so long and dull at some points, you can’t blame him for looking bored.
But despite its faults, the movie does have some well acted scenes, including a very shocking knife fight that breaks out between prisoners when they are all taking a shower. Terrance Howard (“Hustle and Flow”) never disappoints and his acting as Bama, Marcus’ fellow inmate and eventual manager, steals every scene that he appears in. Director Jim Sheridan does a good job of capturing the story and trying to give it a sense of reality.
All in all, “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” is not dynamic but it’s not horrible either; it works. People who really like ‘Fiddy Cent’ will really enjoy the movie and others, who don’t mind the been there done that plot and who can give 50 Cent the benefit of the doubt because it is his acting debut, might be able to sit through it as well.