Anthony's Film Review
Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2005)
Within a culture of violence and drugs, one youth struggles to find himself...
I know little about the culture of the streets involving gangs, drugs, and guns. I simply have no personal experience of it. The reason I decided to see Get Rich or Die Tryin' was curiosity. What is it really like to survive in a ghetto? And how does the poetry in hip-hop music come about? I thought the movie was interesting after seeing it. It was nice to spend 2 hours and 14 minutes of my time in a world I know nothing about while having an appreciative fascination of it.
Curtis Jackson, best known as rapper 50 Cent, plays a fictional version of himself named Marcus Greer. He grew up in New York City without knowing who his father was. He could only guess who it might be. He did have a mother, but she made her living from selling drugs. Marcus knew about it but didn't care. He could get some nice clothes with that much money. Any kid would naturally think of money and how it could give him the stuff he wants. For Marcus, nothing would make him happier than money for a new pair of sneakers.
But when his mother is murdered, his life changes. He moves in with his grandparents, aunts, and uncles, but he keeps thinking of his mother. However, he does not cry or shed a single tear. Rather, he buries his feelings and maintains a stoic expression. Under these circumstances, he sees only one option to achieve the dream of wealth: continue the family business. The moment he starts selling drugs himself, Marcus faces the trials of getting in other people's way and risking his life.
The portrayal of the gangster life is realistic here. Everything from the dialect to the drug money is part of a unique subculture of society. There are rivalries between a black gang and a Colombian gang and they all settle disputes with bullets. There's also the hip-hop music, which is not as big a part in the film as the gangster culture, but it's there to remind us that this is how they express themselves. It's a subculture that the rest of society fears and even denies that exists. After all, it's not pretty. What's more unsettling is that with almost no choices in life, some may purposely turn to the gangster lifestyle instead of turn away from it. For them, that's the only way to survive.
There are other characters who accompany his journey through life. Joy Bryant plays Charlene, who was once Marcus's girlfriend when they were in school together. There is also a brilliant performance by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays the gangster named Majestic. Then there is Terrence Howard, who already has memorable roles in other films like Hustle and Flow. He plays a man whom Marcus meets in prison and becomes a friend by his side. The cast as a whole does a great job, making the characters truly come alive.
I save the two biggest kudos for last. Jim Sheridan did a marvelous job directing scenes that paint a realistic picture of the setting, move the story, and shock us with violence. I think the best part of the film is in the last thirty minutes, because it ultimately leads to a sense of closure. For that, I give the film an extra point on my rating scale. And of course, Curtis Jackson plays his part well, not with emotion, but with a lack of emotion. He is a human being who makes mistakes and tries to turn his life around. We can now understand not only his struggles in life, but also how he became the hip-hop personality he is known as: 50 Cent.
For more information about Get Rich or Die Tryin', visit the Internet Movie Database.