You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge.
For the longest time or since 2009, there has been development about a NWA biopic being made and there hasn’t been much hip-hop biopics on the big screen before and before you say anything, yes, I know Notorious was a thing. It was fine but nothing that caught anyone’s attention after that.
But today, we are here to talk about Straight Outta Compton.
And of course, since you know this is a biopic, you already know what the plot to this is: the early rise and fall of West Coast rap group NWA (or Niggaz with Attitude) in the late 1980s, consisted of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella.
Since this is a different type of narrative storytelling than the usual movies I review, I’m gonna do things different for this review….
First I’m going straight to the acting first and this is some great acting from the cast all around, even in the smallest of cameos they were great. Let’s start with O’Shea Jackson Jr. (aka Ice Cube’s real-life son) playing Ice Cube and he definitely got down the part and you can see a lot of his dad as he plays the role and possibly the one time where nepotism actually works…as long as they can act the part. It also shows Cube has a lot of businessman sense when it came to being screwed on his contracts and that he was the smarter guy of the group. Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell playing Dr. Dre and Eazy-E respectively also made some exceptionally great performances with Mitchell as Eazy being the most charismatic and the passionate element of the movie for many obvious reasons and Hawkins as Dre for being the creative aspect that made some choices in his life that he has some regret (not completely). Aldis Hodge and Neil Brown Jr. as MC Ren and DJ Yella are pivotal throughout the movie only as supporting characters while mostly the story is more Dr. Dre, Eazy and Ice Cube-focused.
Paul Giamatti is former NWA manager Jerry Heller also plays a good part in establishing while we knew Heller as this slimy record manager, the film showed him more than just that. True, he was slimy but he did show that he cared about the guys, especially Eazy, but he also looked out for his own. No one in the movie is superficially “good” or “evil” but honest in some ways. Yes, they left out some stuff in the movie but with its 2 ½ hour run-time, it would’ve been too much. Speaking of that, the runtime didn’t felt as long as most people thought it would be. Actually, it made them want more of it or something like that (which might be a possibility since they’re talking about a spin-off with Death Row Records being the focus.)
R. Marcus Taylor as Suge Knight……..he got him down right. Hell, it actually made me more scared of Suge Knight than before and what went on at Death Row Records….then again, with a company that has a logo with an execution chair, you shouldn’t expect anything else than that. Marcc Rose as 2Pac is great that it’s actually uncanny. It felt like 2Pac himself was actually in the movie and more believable than the hologram and speaking of believable, Keith Stanford’s Snoop Dogg was….well, it wasn’t bad but mostly head-scratching for the part being.
There is some social issues of the movie that serves in the fore front and backdrop from police brutality, trials of which abusive law enforcement gets away with beating an unarmed man and causing many people to protest and be rightfully upset…..which unfortunately is relevant today as it is 20-odd years ago.
Anyway, as for story structure, the first act started out differently than a usual biopic goes, mainly the origins of the members and I got to say Eazy’s intro felt more like something out of an action-thriller than a biopic. It shows that these friends making it to the top with some obstacles in the way. The 2nd act is more biopic territory and yet that’s something I expected out of that so I have no big complaint about that and it ended on an emotional but expected note.
FINAL VERDICT: This could be one of my top 10 favorite movies of this year as this is one of the few music biopics that is well-acted and gives an honest look at these guys. It is an entertaining movie (especially around the music sequences and one scene involving a certain diss song) with well-acted performances and a briskly-paced runtime.
Straight outta Dirty South, a crazy motherfucker named MAK2 give this movie a
9.5/10 – First Class
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – courtesy of UNIVERSAL PICTURES & LEGENDARY PICTURES