Shadowboxer (2005)

Feeling protected is very seductive.

— Rose

After I saw the trailer for Helen Mirren’s upcoming flick, Red, I thought I was seeing the other movie that plays an assassin. Lee Daniel’s directorial début film, Shadowboxer has some controversy with a scene with Stephen Dorff going full frontal in the movie. Trust me, I saw the pictures and video. Excuse me for going off topic. I knew very little about this movie, except it was about assassins and that’s all I should have known about it.

Mirren plays an aging assassin, Rose that has terminal cancer. The type of cancer was not discussed.  Her companion, Mikey (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) tries to comfort her as she knows that her time is running out. She begins to talk about God, heaven and the afterlife when she receives her last mission from their wheelchair bound handler, Andrew (Tom Pasch). The mission is to take out the wife of a fellow hitman, Clayton (Stephen Dorff).

Clayton conveniently goes on a trip for the hit to happen. Rose and Mikey gain access to the house and take out the bodyguards that are protecting Clayton’s wife, Vicki (Vanessa Ferlito). In the back bedroom, Vicki is talking on the phone with her girlfriend, Neisha (Macy Gray) who tells her to be careful about the company she is keeping. She doesn’t like Clayton at all and not afraid to say it.

After getting off the phone, Vicki noticed that it is eerily quiet.  Rose stealthily comes into the room for the intention to kill her, but she realizes that Vicki is pregnant. She has a change of heart to not shoot this woman. The trauma of the ordeal causes Vicki to go into labor. Rose decides to deliver the baby with the reluctant help of Mikey who thinks that they should finish the job.

After delivering the baby, Rose decides to take the mother and child with them in hiding. Before they do so, she summons Dr. Don (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) to come and look at the twosome. He brings along his crack addicted girlfriend, ironically named Precious, played by Mo’Nique, who is jealous of his strange relationship with Rose.

As Rose unofficially retires, she decides to take Vicki and the baby out of the city and into a suburban life, trying to be like a blended family. The strange turn of events does not sit too well with Mikey, being a father figure to a kid that they were hired to kill.

Being that this was Daniel’s first film, I could see that he tried too hard to make a good movie here. It tried to be grand with the musical choices of classical music going into rap music. There were scenes of saturated lights and falling leaves that came straight out of a feminine hygiene commercial. The tone seems off with an assassin story with a family drama and the “comic relief”, which was the lush Neisha. I did not like her in this role. Her voice drove me crazy. I have never been so happy to see a character die in all my life.

As I stated earlier, there is a lot of obvious symbolism here with the older woman, Rose is dying and she wanted to save a woman that is about to bring new life into the world, Vicki. It’s not very subtle. The abundance of crosses is not lost on me about life and death. How do we live our lives and how it all ends? Is there a Heaven or Hell? Will we be remembered after we are gone? Yeah, I get it.

It seems that the movie tried to be a different take on the typical assassin movie, but it ended up being horribly predictable at the end.

Judgment: Google the interesting scenes to save you from sitting through this movie.

Rating: **

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on July 17, 2010, in 2005, Action, Crime, Drama, Independent, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. This movie just made me giggle, it was so hilariously over-the-top.

    • I understood why the characters did what they did, but it was done poorly with the script. It could have been interesting if it wasn’t so contrived and formulaic.

  2. Cuba Gooding Jr. what the hell happened to his career?

    • He peaked when he acted crazy at the Oscars and then he did Daddy Day Camp, Snow Dogs. Boat Trip, Norbit and this movie. He did have some good work in American Gangster and not much else recently.

  3. Do you think this was the film where Cuba thought he was finally gonna get his career back on track?

    • Sadly, I believe so. Lee Daniels produced “Monster’s Ball” and Cuba probably thought that he would be relevant again. That did not happen.

      • Terrible, terrible timing. Daniels really was gonna blow up, but not just with anything… and this was just “anything”, Helen Mirren or no Helen Mirren.

  4. I didn’t mind how out of control it was, I just wish they had more to add to it’s foolishness.

    • I didn’t mind the movie. I wish that the writing was up to snuff. I could have interesting about life and death without it being so obvious.

  5. I am a movie buff, have watched this movie many times and I adore it. Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding,Jjr. are sensual, comfortable and adorable with each other. I really loathed Mo’nique, so she played her character well. What a bad girl! Cuba is such a cutie. I really, really like watching him.

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