Remember the last five minutes of 8 Mile? That amazing, redemptive, and legitimately exhilarating finale in which Eminem—turning all of his crippling shortcomings into weapons—effortlessly dissects his bitter rivals in the freestyle battle, while effectively erasing from your memory the fact that the rest of the movie was actually pretty mediocre? Yeah, well, Get Rich or Die Tryin' doesn't have one of those scenes—though it's happy to supply the mediocrity in spades.
Remember how 50 Cent got shot nine times? So does his accountant. Jesus—for that matter, so does my grandmother. I mean, how could anyone possibly forget? Why else would his mega-dud sophomore record, The Massacre, be the best-selling album of the year? Why else would I be writing a review of his big budget, unabashedly self-glorifying promotional film? I mean, it sure as shit don't have anything to do with charisma. But no amount of overexposure could stop Get Rich or Die Tryin' from making those nine bullet holes the central plot point of an entire movie—that and a completely unfathomable love story, some dabbling in "the game" (the concept, not the rapper), and a questionable sense of historical accuracy (apparently, crack hit New York sometime in the early '90s). Ironically, it's precisely his harder-than-thou façade that ultimately sinks Get Rich so profoundly; 50 couldn't possibly risk his ridiculous self-mythology with any touch of vulnerability—the only thing that really saved Marshall "Mom's Spaghetti" Mathers' similarly styled semi-biopic. It's the same reason that 50's one-note musical persona is so especially grating these days—even when dude's tender thuggin', he looks like he's about to kill something. Not to say that there aren't some minor avenues of promise explored in Get Rich—there's a superb, terribly under-used Terrence Howard and an unintentionally hilarious prison shower/stabbing scene—but each is quickly undermined by an oppressively formulaic storyline and 50's familiar, lazy flow.
Remember when rappers were content to relegate their self-aggrandizing cinematic pursuits to straight-to-video fan fodder? Well, that time has passed, my friends. The big budget movie is the new music video—a masturbatory commercial for celebrity self-mythology, gluttonously stretched over two hours. Oh yeah—and now they want you to pay nine bucks for the pleasure.