With GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN', rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson follows in the footsteps of his musical counterpart, Eminem (8 MILE), by giving movie stardom a shot. Directed by Jim Sheridan (IN AMERICA, MY LEFT FOOT) and written by Terence Winter, the film tells a fictionalized version of 50 Cent's own troubled life story. Marcus is a quiet young man who adores his loving mother (Serena Reeder). But after she is brutally murdered in an apparent drug deal gone wrong, Marcus heads down the wrong road himself. He abandons high school to sell drugs for local kingpin Levar (Bill Duke) and his underling, Majestic (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Years later, when he reunites with his childhood sweetheart (Joy Bryant) and is thrown in jail, Marcus decides to leave drug selling behind in order to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a rapper. Unfortunately, Majestic doesn't want to let him go, resulting in a tragedy that might destroy his life forever.
Much like Curtis Hanson with 8 MILE, Sheridan seems an unlikely choice to direct an urban drama about the blossoming of a gangsta rapper. But that is exactly what makes his film so refreshing. Photographed with a gritty tenderness by Declan Quinn and featuring another scene-stealing turn from Terrence Howard, GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN' is equal parts social commentary, crime thriller, and heartfelt drama.
"It is a follow-your-dream tale of adversity and redemption, somewhat in the manner of 8 MILE and HUSTLE & FLOW, combined with an underworld saga of betrayal and revenge..." - 11/09/2005 New York Times, p.E1
"The outstanding cinematographer is Declan Quinn, who creates a gorgeously crumbly 1970s Bronx in colors of dirt and blood." - 11/18/2005 Entertainment Weekly, p.101-102
"Sheridan and Winter give 50 emotional range, moral choices and consequences..." - 02/01/2006 Uncut, p.98
"[T]he camera shakes with thumping bass from the outset of GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'....This is a film very much steeped in hip-hop culture and history." - 02/01/2006 Sight and Sound, p.58