BUM RAP

 

REVIEWED - GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN' JIM Sheridan's thinly disguised biopic of 50 Cent, a shrapnel-studded rapper from the gangsta school, has already acquired the notable dishonour of a position in the Internet Movie Database's worst 50 films of all time.

By placing it at No 24 (as of this writing), visitors to the influential site have suggested that this gritty tale of transgression and redemption might be slightly worse than both Gigli, that notorious J-Lo catastrophe, and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?

As it happens, Get Rich, whose low ranking may well be the result of a campaign by supporters of a rival artiste, is not all that dreadful. Sheridan and his cinematographer Declan Quinn, painting in dirty reds and dark chocolates, do a decent job of conveying the thrills and miseries of life in the rougher corners of Queens. There are decent turns from the supporting cast and Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer's incidental music pulsates with adequate menace.

Nothing much else works. Unlike Curtis Hanson's 8 Mile, whose thrilling rap face-offs went some way towards counteracting its unlikely wholesomeness, Get Rich - notwithstanding a brilliant title sequence featuring a car throbbing to a heavy bass-line - utterly fails to communicate the importance of hip-hop to the communities from which the music emerged. The tunes are constantly in the background, but we are never offered an opportunity to disentangle the rhymes.

This might be forgivable were it not for the singularly woeful central performance. Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, here badly miscast in the role of himself, takes solemn impassivity to places only previously visited by Easter Island statues. Jim may as well have directed his camera at a hundredweight of turnips for all the emotion he gets out of the surly wordsmith.

He sees his drug-dealer mother killed. He moves into the business himself. More death ensues. All the while Curtis maintains the untroubled, slightly bored aspect a man might wear while waiting for a key to be cut or for his windshield to be cleaned. Even when shot in the face at point-blank range (one of many injuries the real Fiddy sustained), Jackson sees no need to disturb his intimidating facial torpor.

The performance has the extraordinary effect of making almost all previous rock-star turns seem a little less dreadful. Jagger is forgiven his Ned Kelly. Madonna is excused Who's That Girl. Mariah Carey will, however, still have to answer for Glitter.

Donald Clarke