After Marcus and his friends rob a Colombian safe house, Marcus is shot nine times. As the unidentified shooter points the gun to Marcus' head and pulls the trigger, the film flashes back to his childhood.
Marcus is a quiet young boy who adores his loving mother, and the two live a relatively comfortable life on her drug-dealing income. She often has to leave him with his grandparents while she conducts business. She is murdered in an apparent drug deal gone wrong.
Forced to live with his grandparents full-time, they themselves also having children to look after, Marcus finds his life less appealing as his grandfather works long hours to support the family. As he grows older, he rejects the idea of legal work and decides to deal drugs, buying new clothing and a gun. Eventually he abandons high school to sell drugs for local kingpin Levar and his underling, Majestic, full-time. Majestic, however, plans to become a major drug lord himself, often conspiring with a Rap artist he manages named Dangerous.
Years later, after Marcus reunites with his childhood sweetheart Charlene, 1 of his friends is shot and paralyzed at a club by a Colombian named Raul; the gunman initially aimed for Marcus. In retaliation, Marcus attacks Raul but is unable to bring himself to kill Raul when he calls out to his father.
When Raul refuses to identify Marcus as the shooter in a police line up, he is free to go. After an anonymous tip off, cops raid his house and find a gun and drugs, which didn't belong to Marcus. Marcus is jailed, and during his time in prison, he befriends an inmate named Bama.
After encouragement from Bama, Marcus leaves the drug trade behind to pursue and fulfill his lifelong dream of being a rapper, calling himself Young Caesar. Bama joins as his manager and producer. Bama gets out of prison before Marcus but promises he will see him again.
When Marcus leaves prison, Bama, Justice, Majestic, and June Bug are waiting for him. Majestic invites Marcus to become his right-hand man (taking June Bug's place), but Marcus tells him of his aspirations to being a rapper, which Majestic laughs off. Marcus leaves with Bama, taking Justice with him.
Justice and Bama initially have a clash of personalities, but Marcus calms them after a roadside stop. Unconvinced of Marcus' dream, Justice informs Majestic of his activities. As Marcus more seriously pursues music, Majestic tries everything in his power to sabotage his success, threatening record label employees, DJs, and more. Marcus refuses to stop and taunts Majestic and Dangerous in songs.
Despite Marcus' insistence at avoiding crime, Bama convinces him to carry out one last robbery on a Columbian safe house. While this happens, Majestic targets Marcus for death. After Marcus and his crew complete the robbery, the film returns to the 1st scene. It is then revealed that Marcus is shot outside of his family's home by Justice. Marcus rethinks his life, prioritizing his young child. After a long and painful recovery, he records music again.
Angered with Justice's failure, Majestic kills him. Shortly after, Marcus meets with Levar, who remorsefully reveals that he is Marcus' biological father and regrets not being there for him and his mother.
Marcus prepares to go on stage. In the moments before the show, he angers Majestic, who reveals he killed Marcus' mother years earlier. A fight ensues, and Marcus wins. Majestic begs for Marcus to kill him, but Marcus doesn't. As Marcus is about to walk out on stage, Majestic tries to stab him. However, Bama shoots and wounds him. Marcus leaves Majestic in the hands of his cronies, and as he walks out towards the crowd, he stops as he hears a gunshot in the room behind him. There, Bama fires more shots into Majestic's corpse.
Marcus steps onto the stage and performs "Hustler's Ambition".Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson as Marcus "Young Caesar" Greer
Marc John Jefferies as Young Marcus Greer
Terrence Howard as Bama
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Majestic
Joy Bryant as Charlene
Omar Benson Miller as Kyrl
Tory Kittles as Justice
Ashley Walters as Antoine
Viola Davis as Grandma
Sullivan Walker as Grandpa
Serena Reeder as Katrina
Bill Duke as Levar
Mpho Koaho as Junebug
Russell Hornsby as Odell
Joseph Pierre as Uncle Deuce
Ryan Allen as Uncle Roy
Ben Walsh as 15 Euro
Mykelti Williamson as Charlene's step-father (uncredited)
The soundtrack was released on November 8, 2005. In December 2005, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album platinum. The album has so far sold over 3 million copies worldwide.
Samuel L. Jackson publicly turned down an offer to co-star in the film, citing that he did not want to lend credence to what he believed was an inexperienced and unproven actor. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote of Jackson's decision: "...Jackson is arguing against the anti-intellectual message that success for young black males is better sought in the worlds of rap and sports than in the classroom". Jackson and 50 Cent later co-starred in the 2006 film Home of the Brave.
Get Rich or Die Tryin holds a 16% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes based upon 117 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "While it may be based upon 50 Cent's own life experiences, Get Rich Or Die Tryin' is too similar to many other rags-to-riches stories to resonate." Radio Times criticized the film, saying that "as a vehicle for hip-hop superstar Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson, this [film] runs out of gas a fair few kilometres short", giving it a "could be worse" rating of 2/5 stars. CinePassion stated that "[Jim] Sheridan's surface vividness is applied around a vacuum."
FilmFocus said that the film's "real danger is that it sets a precedent for the director; if the price is right he's on board." The BBC was not entirely impressed with the film, saying that "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 short-changed."
Jonathan Ross gave a positive review, calling Get Rich or Die Tryin' "gripping" and suggesting that it had "excellent performances". Roger Ebert also praised the film, giving the film a 3 out of 4 rating and saying that it was "a film with a rich and convincing texture, a drama with power and anger".
Get Rich or Die Tryin' grossed $12,020,807 in its opening weekend. Altogether, the film grossed $46,442,528 in total worldwide.