Get Rich Or Die Tryin' review

The beat kicks in before the credits drop, 50 Cent and crew gonna rob a shop. "Two niggas in the front/Two niggas in the back" - the heat's gettin' polished, this posing looks whack. Yet later, across town, 50's in the ditch - he's peppered with nine bullets, one's in his mouth and it's given him a lisp. Coupla months pass, recuperating done - the rapper who got shot is heading for Number One...

It's the catch-22 of gangster rap. Will Smith's pop-pap Miami raps may sell millions, but thrive on bitches, blunts and bullets, risk early 'retirement' and then you have something to rhyme about and grab headlines. Shot nine times and selling drugs before his balls dropped, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson's story was tailor-made for an Eminem-alike 'fictionalisation' - and the omens looked positive when Jim Sheridan signed up to helm the hard-knocks tale.

Like 8 Mile, Get Rich Or Die Tryin' hinges on its lead's ability to, essentially, play himself. Result? If Jackson is this charisma-bypassed in real-life, it's no surprise he has so many vendettas stacked against him. Remarkably monotonous, Jackson has a meagre presence for a man of considerable physical heft. Also, apart from a genuinely affecting tale of how his 12-year-old self (Marc John Jefferies) lost his dealer mum and joined the family business, the rapper's macho, gun-stroking posturing fails to inject freshness into the seen-it-before story.

Marcus' New York is one where guns resolve conflicts, women are simply lengthy crack analogies and the "I had it all" drugs empire ghetto life is sensationally, alluringly depicted. It's a hackneyed, cock-comparing story, salvaged by the support (Terrence Howard, Ashley Walters, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), but let down by a skeletal plot that, really, only spins round one thing. And it's 9mm in diameter.

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