Archives for posts with tag: Xander Berkeley

The “based on a true story” film genre is often a worst-of-both-worlds purgatory that mixes fact and drama to the point that both are weakened. “City of Lies” (2021), a dormant film about the even-more-dormant murders of rap icons Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, would have been better either as a documentary or as a completely fictionalized police procedural with “names changed to protect the innocent,” as they used to say on the old LAPD television shows. Conspiracy theories surrounding the unsolved murders have reduced Biggie and Tupac to abstracts, like Amelia Earhart. This film clouds the narrative even further.

Honky male actors have been making mediocre action movies for years, so I see it as a sign of gender equality that Taraji P. Henson made the incredibly mediocre “Proud Mary” (2018). It’s got two hallmarks of mediocre action cinema: Good guys with 100 percent handgun accuracy versus bad guys with 2 percent accuracy, and the Law of Unlimited Bullets. The slapped-together plot has her assassin character trying to flee a crime family, save an orphan and survive a mob war she semi-accidentally started. The title hinted that Henson might try a spin on 1970s blaxploitation films. Disposability won out.