Sunday, June 18, 2017

Movie Review: All Eyez on Me

Continuing the trend of hip-hop biopics, this film takes on the most mysterious and controversial figure, and possibly the most popular, of rap music. Tupac Shakur's legacy lives on with amazing music and heartfelt lyrics that still ring true decades later. Tupac (Demetrius Shipp Jr.) grew up with an activist mother Afeni Shakur (Danai Gurira) and a wanted stepfather Mutulu (Jamie Hector). The FBI harasses his family in New York City and Afeni decides to take her children to Baltimore. In Maryland, Tupac shows an affinity for dramatic performances and meets Jada Pinkett (Kat Graham). As his mother's addiction grows worse, Tupac leaves for the west coast where he sees someone die immediately.

Ambitious, Tupac, through the connection of Leila Steinberg (Lauren Cohan), seeks out Shock G (Chris Clarke) who brings him along on a tour. When Tupac returns, his mother who followed them out there has grown even more addicted to crack despite her insistence that she has everything under control. Tupac insists to Shock G that he needs to start making his own moves and comes up with hits like Brenda's Got a Baby. This hit record combined with his debut acting role in Juice gives him the opportunity to sign with Interscope records, though they don't understand his music. 

This film intersperses life events with a prison interview conducted by a reporter (Hill Harper). Tupac reflects back on his growing career and the altercations he continues to experience with police. As he grows more popular, he meets Biggie (Jamal Woolard) and they form a bond of mutual respect. Tupac finds that his popularity draws more controversy as he is forced into a leadership role being called out by influential people including the vice president. Tupac's disagreements with his record company grow worse as he believes they are withholding money from him. 

Tupac responds to each controversy trying to stay ahead. Accused of misogyny, Tupac has to deal with a sexual assault charge that puts him in prison. Before his sentence, he angers some New York gangsters who shoot him five times in the lobby of a studio where Bad Boy Records, and Biggie, are recording. Tupac's anger grows while locked up and Suge Knight (Dominic L. Santana) is there to help him out on bail. He produces tons of hits with Death Row Records. He also furthers his beef with Biggie by claiming to have had sex with Faith. The beef grows even more as Tupac turns on other rappers like Snoop Dogg for claiming they are friend with Biggie. Tupac tries to move away from Death Row Records as he furthers a relationship with Kidada Jones (Annie Ilonzeh). 

The final Las Vegas moments of Tupac's life are shown with real footage of the events leading up to his death. This film moves fast just like the man who accomplished so much before 25. Shipp is a great look-a-like with matching charisma. Gurira's performance as the troubled mother is one of the finer performances of the film. While there is plenty more story to be told, I enjoyed this film for the informative nature, though I'm not sure of the accuracy, and entertaining way it captured one of the most iconic men in the hip-hop industry. All Eyez on Me tells a portion of a story that is both moving and exciting. 

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