N.W.A. for my money was the last hip-hop group who were interesting and relevant. It’s no wonder that somebody might want to do a biopic because they were the “most dangerous” group on the planet at the time, controversy and chaos would follow wherever they went. The didn’t help themselves with having a song called “Fuck Tha Police” which didn’t make them any friends on police forces never mind the colour of their skin and the institutional racism that still remains in the police forces today.
The film is directed by F. Gary Gray who isn’t the most interesting director on the planet and has said numerous times this is the best film he has ever directed. That is indeed that case; it’s better than his remake of The Italian Job for sure. He directs it with a sense of stylist flare but he also gets strong performances from his cast including Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson, Jr. who plays his father in the film. Paul Giamatti after coming off his great turn in Love & Mercy plays the equally sleazy manager of N.W.A. Jerry Heller.
The finished product suffers from being too long, I’ve only seen the near to 3 hour directors’ cut which is on the Blu-Ray along with the shorter theatrical cut. The first two hours in basically how N.W.A. gets together and then became big stars etc. but the group fell apart so quickly that for the next hour it goes into what all the members ended up doing for a few years until the untimely death of Eazy-E from Aids. It seemed like excessive detail which only hardcore hip-hop fans would be engaged with, it made the film drag. The last act also seemed to depict the infighting the group had too safely, which is probably down to the fact Dr. Dre and Ice Cube are producers on the film.
Straight Outta Compton however is an epic biopic of one of the last musical groups who had any real danger to them. It doesn’t completely work but it’s a timely film due to increased awareness of cops killing young unarmed black men in the US. It probably a bit too Hollywoodised for its own good but it’s an angry film like the music which is rare in the safe world of today.
Music, Biography, Drama | USA, 2015 |Universal Pictures UK | Dir.F. Gary Gray | Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr | Buy: [Blu-ray]