Rap superstar 50 Cent - aka Curtis Jackson - follows in the footsteps of Eminem in Get Rich Or Die Tryin'. While it boasts a first-class director and is loosely based on the singer's own life-story, the results leave you feeling a little, erm, short-changed. Sadly, it is Jackson himself who takes most of the rap for this. Kicking off with a botched robbery and the merciless shooting of its central character, Marcus (Jackson), the film then re-tells his life story from the events leading up to the murder of his mother while he was still a kid.
Forced to deal drugs in order to survive, Marcus yearns for something better and fancies a career as a hip-hop artist. But it is only a stint in prison that really allows him to focus his talent and enables him to meet a fellow gangster (Terrence Howard) who agrees to serve as his bodyguard and manager. The hustle and flow that follows plays out like a greatest hits selection of 50 Cent's own musical reflections and countless other movies besides, taking in the usual petty rivalries, gangsta' bloodshed, pimps and whores.
What makes Get Rich Or Die Tryin' most disappointing, however, is the presence of Irish director Jim Sheridan, whose very best work includes In The Name Of The Father and In America. Here, he is ill served by a clichéd script that reduces most characters to stereotype and a curiously flat performance from Jackson, who is accused on at least two occasions of failing to show any emotion by his co-stars. Without a charismatic leading man to guide it, the film struggles to maintain a worthwhile rhythm and ends up sounding like a broken record with nothing new to say.