If I had to judge solely off of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ and Before I Self Destruct, two films both starring Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. 50 Cent, I’d have to conclude that the rap-star is a better writer and director than Jim Sheridan and Terence Winter, the director/writer team of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’.
Jim Sheridan is a 6 time Academy Award nominee, and yet, I felt like he could have done a much better job with Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. There is definitely something fascinating, even preternatural, to 50 Cent’s success story, and yet, Sheridan and Winter failed to fully capture it on screen, in my opinion.
Before I Self Destruct, on the other hand, while it starts out a little slow-paced, builds momentum, and quickly becomes a fascinating story. I think what fascinated me the most was that here is a revenge story in which we learn that vengeance really doesn’t mean jack. While there are dozens and dozens of revenge flicks out there, most of them keep building up to revenge as this final, climactic, massive emotional event that happens in the very end of the story, adding weight to how important vengeance is, at least according to those films. But in Before I Self Destruct, the revenge part of the movie is over in the blink of an eye, and then we are back to the mundane, every-day, sh**-hole of existence. That makes perfect sense. It illuminates that fact that in real life, vengeance is not what it’s hyped up to be: it’s empty, shallow, and far too brief. The real challenge is being able to cope with your life post-revenge. And that’s what Before I Self Destruct is about.
The dialogue is both clever and believable. When I watch Tarantino flicks, I always love how clever the dialogue is. But let no one think that means it’s believable. It’s clearly a Tarantino construct. I guess if everyone in the world thought like Tarantino, it would be believable. But 50 Cent’s dialogue comes across as 100% the way I’d imagine it going in real life, and it’s clever and witty to boot.
Clifton Powell, the supporting actor, also shines. A film with believable and interesting writing and acting wins out over a glossy, highly produced, shallow film any day of the week, in my book. I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising that 50 Cent is such a good writer. I mean, rappers are wordsmiths, are they not?
I guess in the end the reason I liked this movie so much is that it doesn’t come across as trying too hard to follow all the Hollywood formulas for box office success. Instead, it’s solely the creation of Curtis Jackson, someone with a unique life and perspective, that has some wonderful insights to share with us on the screen about how his mind works.