Tupac Shakur was quite frankly, not only a great rapper but a poetic lyricist, but in this acquainted biopic, poetic justice doesn’t roll with a smooth tongue but with a disjointed bounce that breathes an air of exasperation and disenchantment.
At the helm of Tupac’s rise and tragic fall at such an early age, is music video veteran Benny Boom creating a less than dramatic dramatisation of the world in which this angry young man lived – An intriguing exploration of Tupac from a young age surrounded by the political and drug addled force of his Mother and The Black Panther movement which quite easily explains his anger at the world around him which only grew stronger in his adult years.
Laying the base of the narrative we are lead into Tupac’s life with his time in jail serving nine months for an alleged rape on a women in his hotel room, a camera crew and interviewer spend time with the rapper as flashbacks to crucial moments in his life are played out from early childhood and his volatile relationship with his Mother to the moment he took the lead in Hamlet in a school play in 1987 where he first met Jada Pinkett-Smith (Kat Graham) cementing their life-long friendship. Dipping incoherently between the past and the present we see his moves to Baltimore and Oakland to his first step on the ladder of Fame when he joined Digital Underground with snippets of his early videos recreated for Same Song and Brenda’s Got a Baby to his move into the heady world of movies and his time on the set of Juice.
Considering the overly long running time of 2 hours 20 minutes, lacking is the amount of Pac’s music and the amount of time Demetrius Shipp Jr’s Tupac actually has screen time in the studio. The fact this man spent most of his time in the studio and the lack of this depiction feels false in its interpretation, despite the credible performance put in by Shipp who emanates the militant confidence and bravado with precision, it also helps that his resemblance to the shaven-headed rap heart-throb is freakishly on point.
In the second half the story gather’s some momentum but the lack of passion in the telling still reigns – his story continues in “real time” after he leaves prison where he subsequently signs for Suge Knights, played by Dominic L. Santana with a menacing and egotistical heart, Death Row Records, signing away the rights to his music to witnessing the brutality of the sociopathic Knight and his flunkeys. Rounding up the story is Pac’s relationship with Quincy Jones daughter Kidada Jones (Annie Ilonzeh), and their brief relationship before he was heartbreakingly shot down in his prime.
Now this is being sold as the Untold Story but many fans of Tupac will be pretty up to date with all the information that comes out of this biopic, there really isn’t anything new revealed here. Whilst it doesn’t shy away from the controversy the spotlight dims the conspiracy theories. It dips its toe into the scalding hot water of his highly publicised East Coast/West Coast feud with Rapper and fellow lyrical legend The Notorious B.I.G. – with Jamal Woolard reprising his role as Christopher Wallace from the previous Biggie biopic Notorious – but it’s so confusingly fleeting feeling like a passing moment in his life.
So much hope and expectation is lost not only from the loss of Tupac but also from the weak and passionless script. The finished product conveys in a team that had too much information that they simply didn’t know what to do with except throw it in a bowl and let settle into an absorbing mess.
All Eyez on Me is out in cinemas June 30th.