All Eyez On Me (2017)
Since his unsolved murder in 1996, Tupac Shakur’s death has provided ample fodder for filmmakers, including a Nick Broomfield documentary, a 10 part Netflix series and an upcoming feature film starring Johnny Depp. However Tupac’s crowded life has been comparatively overlooked. Born to members of the Black Panther Party, Tupac’s rise to become one of the most influential hip hop artists of all time would seem to be ideal material for a powerful biopic. Regrettably, this isn’t it.
Using a mundane prison interview to telegraph each plot point, All Eyez on Me skips through Tupac’s early life, pausing occasionally for some clichéd platitude to be dispensed with. Shortly after arriving in California, Tupac becomes a recording artist and movie star with what seems very little effort. Battles with record producers, police and gang members pockmark the remainder of his short life in an array of sequences that fail to combine into a narrative whole.
So it comes as no surprise to learn that the director’s background is music videos. Each scene is a story unto itself. They look great and, apart from the cumbersome scoring of Tupac’s murder, the music is judiciously employed. By the film’s end we have little understanding of who this important artist was, except perhaps that towards the end of his life he wasn’t a very nice guy.
Despite the notable efforts of newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr., who turns in a very engaging performance in the lead role, this film remains eminently watchable yet instantly forgettable.
Following the movie’s release, Jada Pinkett sent out the following series of tweets -