All Eyez on Me: Long-Awaited 2Pac Biopic Barely Scratches the Surface
Danai GuriraDemetrius Shipp Jr....
In 1 Cinema
Disappointment overshadows the long-awaited biopic of one of the most influential music artists of all time, Tupac Amaru Shakur, who, at the height of his fame and success, said goodbye to the world on September 7th 1996, when he was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Named after his fourth studio album, which was released only seven months before his highly controversial death, All Eyez On Me is shallow and superficial in its portrayal of distinctly movie-appropriate real-life story, not the movie the fans have been waiting to see.
Taking on a let’s-tell-it-all approach, the film barely skips a beat, starting off at a time before the talented wordsmith was even born. The year is 1971 and we are introduced to a Black Panther activist, Afeni Shakur (Gurira); a fearless and a passionate woman seen giving a black power speech at the steps of a courthouse whilst stroking her pregnant belly. The story then takes on a lacklustre and a conventional TV Movie slant which follows Tupac’s turbulent life at home as a young child before eventually, settling onto his teenage years, when he gets his first break with Digital Underground in the early 90’s.
It’s in the film’s second act where we watch Tupac move from the streets of Baltimore to California, as he begins to take America by storm with his multi-layered and provocative lyrics, while also covering his highly-publicised rape charge and of course his affiliation with Death Row Records and Suge Knight (Santana)
Covering absolutely everything that there is to cover about his rather short and turbulent life, All Eyez on Me is the perfect definition of how not to make a biopic. Never really finding the time to pause and dig beneath the surface, the film is clumsily framed by a flashback-interview style device which takes place during his 1995 prison sentence.
The story rushes through the artist’s childhood years in a highly overworked page-by-page fashion which detaches the story from any significance or emotional weight. Tupac’s deeply personal bond with childhood friend Jada Pinkett (Graham) for example, is also stripped down from any sentiment whilst his love-hate relationship with Afeni, although slightly more effective, is weighed down by an overwrought performance by The Walking Dead’s star Danai Gurira.
Meanwhile, newcomer Shipp Jr. has been given the undeniably challenging task of representing Shakur and while yes, the actor is a dead-ringer for the rapper and he does manage to mimic his mannerisms to a believable degree, his limited acting skills shows.
Playing out like a surface-based greatest hits collection as oppose to a deeply moving portrayal of a man who wanted to change the world, All Eyez on Me is dissapointingly impersonal. Overlong and overworked in so many ways, the legacy of Tupac Shakur remains, it’s just such a shame that All Eyez on Me – which also just so happens to be one of his most accomplished albums – couldn’t do it justice.