Entertainment All Eyez On Me: hip-hop’s rich, gritty past has never been this boring

All Eyez On Me: hip-hop’s rich, gritty past has never been this boring

Benny Boom's Tupac biopic transforms a fascinating life into a relentless, ugly mess. Source: Summit Entertainment
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

During a pivotal moment in All Eyez on Me, Tupac Shakur explains to record label executives why it’s crucial his music is heard without a filter.

To him they aren’t simply radio tunes, they’re real stories told with immense passion. The vignette only highlights just how haphazardly and terribly this film depicts the slain rapper’s life.

With the success of 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, hip-hop biopics are in hot demand.

Unfortunately, this latest attempt at capturing the life and times of the rapper better known as 2Pac falls short in almost every regard. The worst thing a rap flick could ever be is this boring.

All Eyez on Me represents the big screen debut of Demetrius Shipp Jr., who resembles Pac in looks alone.

The rapper’s raw charisma is entirely absent throughout the film’s overblown two-and-a-half hour run time.

In fact, every actor in the film appears to have been cast purely for their physical resemblances to their real-life counterparts. Any time anyone is required to actually emote, the illusion immediately caves in.

This is most obvious when Jarrett Ellis saunters in as a very unconvincing Snoop Dogg.

If it wasn’t enough that he barely looks like the legendary West Coast rapper, he apparently doesn’t sound much like him either as Snoop’s real voice is dubbed over the top with the precision of a dodgy ventriloquist act.

Suge Knight Dominic Santana All Eyez on me
Dominic L. Santana steals the show as the insidious Suge Knight. Source: Summit Entertainment

An exception to the poor casting is Dominic L Santana’s portrayal of Suge Knight– who owns the role with such convincing and explosive terror, it’ll leave you wishing this was a film about the villainous record producer instead.

The film’s director, Benny Boom, established his name directing music videos and that’s really what he should have stayed doing.

Every moment in this flick is perversely paced; passing over golden moments of hip-hop history with breakneck speed and slowing to a crawl just to serve up stilted, dull exposition.

Moments intended to be emotionally resonant are so brutally compact, they wind up coming across as comedic.

This is especially true when it comes to Tupac’s mother, a black rights activist and struggling drug addict, whose constant shouting becomes exhausting mere minutes into the movie. 

The appearance of Kat Graham as a saccharine Jada Pinkett (who in reality has publicly savaged the biopic) also makes for painful viewing.

Biggie Smalls All Eyez on Me Tupac Shakur Jamal Woolard
Jamal Woolard reprises his role as Biggie Smalls in an odd but pleasant crossover moment. Source: Summit Entertainment

The only thing Eyez deserves credit for is skirting away from idolising its subject. Through an amateurish dual-narrative structure, a fictional interviewer sporadically grills Tupac in a prison visitation room, often pointing out valid contradictions in Tupac’s message.

The journalist expresses common criticisms of the rapper, but unfortunately there’s no attempt to offer any kind of satisfying answer.

All Eyez on Me isn’t even worthy of hate-watching. If you love this era of hip-hop, see Notorious instead. And if you want to see what Tupac was really like, the documentary Resurrection will serve you far better than this 140-minute ordeal.

View Comments