Original Title: All Eyez on Me
Country: United States
Director: Benny Boom
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
11.12.2019: This review was first published in 12.04.2018 is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
All Eyez on Me was released in 2017, directed by Benny Boom, portrays the life of my favorite rapper, Tupac Amaru Shakur and has the name of his fourth studio album.
Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z…
The initial project had the Academy Award nominee John Singleton (Rest In Peace) as its director, but unfortunately, due to differences in opinion between Singleton and the studio he decided to leave.
With his 1991 Boyz N the Hood, Singleton became the youngest Oscar nominee for original screenplay and director, when he was only 24 years old. Boyz N the Hood is one of the main responsible for my interest in films.
However, Boyz N The Hood and John Singleton are a story for another day and another video, dedicated exclusively to them. Now back to All Eyez on me.
Tupac Shakur, or at least the idea I had of him, was a role model for my teenage years, and it’s strange to think I’m older now than he was when he died.
I and some friends were always excited about a Tupac movie after seeing movies about other rappers. Now, the movie we waited for years was finally made, imagine the frustration of realizing the movie sucked.
Me Against the World
To be fair, the only rapper biopic that was actually good was Straight Outta Compton from 2015, but it’s natural to expect greatness from a movie about Tupac and the result was not great at all.
The movie begins with a very unnecessary interview with Tupac in jail, in which he tells his story since the womb, growing up in a time of extreme racial tension and raised with Black Panthers including Assata Shakur, Mutulu Shakur and his mother Afeni (played by Danai Gurira, better known as Michonne in The Walking Dead and Okoye in the MCU).
We watch as the young Tupac grows up learning the struggles of the black people in America through activist speeches, police harassment of his family, himself and other young black men in the streets.
We watch all these flashbacks as if Tupac is telling his story to the interviewer. Later, still in the interview, we see the rise of Tupac’s career, from Digital Underground to the moment he goes to jail.
That’s when the stupid and unnecessary interview ends and Suge Knight enters the scene, convincing Tupac to join Death Row Records, marking the final phase of Tupac’s career and life.
The movie is bad and doesn’t make justice to Tupac’s story, it has an awful and unnatural flow, jumping randomly from scene to scene, especially during his childhood and adolescence. After the infamous interview ends, the movie flows slightly better, but not that much.
The filmmakers weren’t able to portray with accuracy Tupac’s early career when his lyrics were charged with social commentary and more than just a rapper, he was a revolutionary, so much that the FBI was paying close attention to him.
I mean, they display these facts, but they failed to demonstrate the dimension and importance of his words, which made him a leader from a very young age.
They weren’t able to portray the final phase of his life and career as well. We see too much business and little of his paranoia and obsession with death after the first shooting.
If you skip most of his childhood, adolescence and show inaccurate glimpses of both phases of his career, you have almost no Tupac left to be displayed in the film.
Now, the movie is not 100% bad, and the best thing about All Eyez on Me is the cast and some great performances. Danai Gurira is easily the highest point of the movie, I think she is underrated as an actress in general.
Dominic L. Santana plays Suge Knight and does it very well. The same can be said about Kat Graham and her interpretation of Jada Pinkett, praised by the real Jada herself. For those who don’t know what Jada Pinkett Smith have to do with this story, she was Tupac’s best friend.
However, Jada didn’t like the movie and heavily criticized it for the inaccuracies in the portrayal of their friendship.
In the first role of his career, Demetrius Shipp Jr. gives us a great performance as Tupac, shining from the 20 minutes mark onward. I believe he has potential, I would love to see what he can do in a decent movie.
I already mentioned how Kat Graham had very few scenes as Tupac’s best friend, but she is no exception in this movie. DeRay Davis (some childhood role model name Legs), Jamie Hector (as stepfather Mutulu Shakur) and Lauren Cohan (as Leila Steinberg) are among the big names with insignificant scenes.
Sometimes a brief appearance can be nice, the best example I can remember is Paul Giamatti in the 2016 Morgan. The movie is not good and Giamatti only has a few scenes but he shines, but those in All Eyez on Me I mentioned before have zero to do.
The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
Tupac was a man who achieved success at a young age thanks to his talent in music and acting, had a bright future ahead of him when he was murdered, in a crime many people still believe to be unsolved.
After watching, the feeling of melancholy was double, the first reason being the sad story of a young and talented man being murdered, and the second being how poorly was his life was depicted in the film.
Some minor moments gave us glimpses of greatness, like when Tupac is listening to Who Shot Ya? for the first time, I loved that scene. However, little scenes alone can’t save a terrible movie.
I would love to rate the movie ten out of ten, I would love to have watched a ten out of ten film depicting the life of the legendary Tupac Shakur, however, what we have here is a four out of ten. So, it’s 4 Moons.