It would be easy to write off Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's biopic, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," as a lesser sequel to "8 Mile," but the buzz surrounding the movie makes it difficult.
The main concern people have with the film actually deals with the marketing. Many of the billboards — which either show Jackson holding a gun in one hand and a microphone in the other or with a gun tucked into the back of his jeans while holding a baby — have seen a backlash, particularly in Los Angeles and New York, for depicting violence.
"I have my son in one arm and a gun behind me like I am going to do whatever it takes to get to what I am trying to do," Jackson said in a conference call. "It was perfect, but the photograph out there is great representation of the actual film because I was really aggressive in order to get by in the environment that I was from."
He said that protesters are over-reacting because it is his film.
"How often have you seen guns utilized as a marketing tool for action films or films, period? A billion times. If you walk into Blockbuster you will see guns probably more than you see people," he said.
Jackson's jump from music to the big screen may not seem that difficult because the movie is loosely based on his life.
"For me making music I go in with a concept or an idea and I create the song but it is always the first verse first, like the chorus first, the first verse, the second verse and the third verse. I always use that format," he said. "In film we were shooting everything out of sequence. So nothing was done in order; it was all over the place."
However, no matter how much he struggled, Jackson said he is proud of the end result.
"I just think after people see the film that they are going to view me different because they get a chance to see me on a broader scale than they have been seeing me in music. I think that is why the response to the film has been really good," he said. "… I feel really good about it; I'm proud of it."
Jackson does understand that his mentor Eminem is partly why the movie was made.
"I believe the idea was inspired by Eminem's '8 Mile.' The success of that project is like we can do a film based on his life story because it is so different from what Eminem's experience was," Jackson said. "But I don't mind the comparison because Em's film was such a success."
It's true, there are similarities between "8 Mile" and "Get Rich or Die Tryin'": Guy overcomes the adversity at home and in his life to be able to become a respected rapper. That's where comparisons end.
"Get Rich" is the story of Marcus. At the movie's opening, he's a grown man robbing a currency exchange, but then the movie jumps to his childhood. In his early years, he's a young boy who gets passed off onto his grandparents by his drug dealer mom, Katrina (Serena Reeder). His mother is killed, most likely because of the drug wars. Ultimately, Marcus gets into the family business, originally just to buy some sneakers, and becomes the protégé of Majestic (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a ruthless druglord.
While Marcus sells drugs and is involved with the drug war, he meets his childhood sweetheart Charlene (Joy Bryant), they have a child and he gets sent to jail because of the drugs. There he meets Bama (Terrence Howard), who pushes him to consider going into the music business — under the moniker Young Caesar.
Although there is stress on the rapping, but the movie barely shows any. There's plenty of character development but the script is lacking. There's too much emphasis on the drugs and more than a few unnecessary scenes.
Viewers can give Jackson credit for trying out acting, but this was not the movie in which to do so, even though it's his story. There are moments where his performance is very admirable, especially the scene where he gets shot nine times (which most people know is taken from reality).
Director Jim Sheridan sets the scenes well with the background imagery, but the movie still fizzles. The audience knew some of the movie was ludicrous, even laughable. The movie may do well during this opening week, but it will fade fast.