Year of Release: 2011
Production Companies: Hannibal Pictures/Cheetah Vision Films
You know, I can’t really say that I have seen a lot of films with 50 Cent in them. I don’t have a problem with 50 Cent as a rapper, but as an actor, I have noticed that he had been in a bunch of straight-to-video stuff. What amazes me about all of this is that when he had been in films that had theatrical releases, he had a supporting role. You would think that at one point with him being a rap star (and he was rather big at one point, and I don’t mean his physique, and more on that later) that he would have gotten lead roles. I think that “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” (The movie, I mean) affected his chances of being a leading man in Hollywood, as it didn’t do well. I haven’t seen it, though I will one day and I plan on covering it.
What I am going to talk about is what seemed like 50’s passion project, as he not only starred in the movie, but also had a credit in writing the script and producer. For those who don’t know, back in the early 2010s, in fact it was exactly in 2010, there were pictures on the internet that showed 50 Cent looking emaciated. He looked rather sickly. It turned out he had lost a lot of weight for a role. For years, I wondered what movie it was that he went through that weight loss. Fast forward to this year, when my question was finally answered. My mom had told me about this movie and how she watched it one day and she thought it was good. I ended up giving it a watch one day when it happened to be on.
The movie’s plot deals with Deon, played by 50 himself, who is a star running back at his college. He is so good that that he will be a surefire shot in the top 10 draft picks for the NFL. He is also supported by his mother, played by Lynn Whitfield, his mother’s boyfriend, played by Mario Van Peebles. However, his brother Sean, played by Cedric Sanders, is constantly living in his shadow. Being that Deon is quite a ladies man, when Sean wanted his brother to talk to a girl he liked, Deon ended up getting the girl instead. In fact, Deon had no problem getting women into bed. But then a big change occurs. One day in the locker room, he passed out and it was revealed that he had a cancerous tumor that is only a centimeter away from his heart. But the question on the parents’ mind was if he could still play football in spite of his condition. From that point on, things fall apart from there.
Okay, I must note that I admire 50 Cent’s commitment to this. According to IMDB, he had lost a friend to cancer, so in a lot of ways this film is a tribute and based on a true story. Plus, the weight loss was a definite sign that he was committed to the role. So in a lot of ways, he earns my respect for this. But there were a lot of problems with this film.
I have to hand it to 50 Cent for trying to give a convincing performance when he was at the height of his collegiate football career and when he was in his ill state. He needs to work on it more, but it wasn’t bad. The problems with the film were the writing and the portrayals of certain characters. When Deon was revealed to have cancer, all of a sudden he becomes a burden on everyone else in his family, with his mother having to work multiple jobs to pay off the medical bills. Sean ended up getting the girl, but still resents Deon and looks at him as a burden. Eric, the mother’s boyfriend (later ex), seemed more concerned about whether Deon could play, rather than his condition. In fact, I felt no sympathy for the other characters, except for maybe the mom. One part that stood out for the wrong reasons was when Deon, who was working as a janitor at the college, saw this woman jogging on the grounds and tried to talk to her, except that she no longer recognized him. She was seen earlier in the film, by the way, as another notch on Deon’s headboard. They met in a gym and then spotted him and they worked out together, both literally and figuratively. Hell, the last appearance before that particular scene had implied that those two likely slept together.
What made things even worse was that suddenly, because Deon could no longer play, the university had to revoke his scholarship, during his senior year, no less. Even more ridiculous, he went to a counselor, who said something that “there used to be a star running back with that same name,” then was dumbfounded that they were one and the same.
Did I mention that Deon proves that he could be a car salesman more than halfway and that at the end, there was a celebration with tents and set on the football field with no clear reason? Also, did I forget to mention that Ray Liotta had only three scenes despite being on the cover/poster art? Liotta has a role in this film as the doctor who tells Deon about his condition. So he basically just tells him what he should do, but doesn’t give any medication to help treat his illness.
The film ended with Deon leaving the party, so that he could run down the field and raise his arms in victory for one last hurrah, in a freeze frame, as well. It wasn’t clear what the meaning behind that bit was. Did he want to die on the field? Was it so that he could relive his lost glory that was taken from him? It was vague.
I will say that this is one of those films that I can give credit where it’s due, but at the same time, it just wasn’t that good in the end. 50 Cent had a lot of commitment for this role, but regarding the screenplay, it would have been much better if he had pitched the story and hire a screenwriter to write the script. It would have made the film much better than it was. I also had trouble buying 50 Cent, who was in his mid-30s at the time this was film, playing someone in his early-20s. Usually college athletes are in their late-teens to early-20s, and it would make sense for 50’s character to be around that age, but I couldn’t buy him as someone at that age. He didn’t even look that young to be convincing. That dreadlocks wig didn’t convince me, either.
In the end, I can only admire 50’s commitment and effort for it, but the movie as a whole could have been a lot better.