With All Eyez on Me the legendary rapper Tupac Shakur finally receives his long awaited bio-pic. One that has been in development for quite some time. Ever since rap friend-turned-rival Notorious B.I.G. had a movie about him released back in 2009 the rumors about a Tupac movie had been popping up every now and then. With Tupac appearing as a minor character in that movie and in 2015’s smash hit Straight Outta Compton he is now finally put front and center in his own movie. Too bad it’s not a really good one.
During his life I never listened much to Tupac aside from the occasional song on the radio or MTV. Gangster rap was never big outside of the U.S. aside from a couple of songs that became worldwide hits. Songs like “California Love” by Dre and Tupac. Ironically, his death made him more famous than he ever was during his lifetime with posthumous hits like Do For Love and Changes.
All Eyez on Me covers Tupac’s entire life in just over 2 hours. From the moment he is in his mother’s womb until the moment he gets fatally shot in Las Vegas. The first half is told in flashback as Tupac is being interviewed in a prison. He has been incarcerated after having been found guilty of sexual-assault. The interactions between Tupac and the interviewer are the worst acted scenes in the movie. These scenes are meant to provoke Tupac with difficult questions, giving the audience a glimpse in his mind, but none of these scenes achieve that.
All Eyez on Me also tends to be a hagiography of Tupac. While not a saint in the strict sense of the word, the rapper is almost always a victim of circumstance. When he beats someone up it’s because the guy is a drug dealer selling crack to his mother. When he shoots an off-duty cop it’s because he and his colleague were harassing a black guy. The sexual-assault he was charged for? He was asleep and not even in the same room when the victim was raped by people he called his friends.
Only after becoming the victim of an armed robbery and getting shot for which he started blaming the Notorious B.I.G., does he actually become somewhat of the guy who gets in fights that could have easily been avoided. Much if the blame is also placed upon Suge Knight. Probably rightfully so, but while both Dre and Snoop Dog started to distance themselves more and more from Knight and his toxic environment, Shakur was pretty loyal to him. One of many choices that probably got him killed in the end.
As a movie buff I was more interested in his acting career and did a lengthy article about his acting career 8 years ago. It was fun to see that they gave his movie career a proper due in the movie. Juice, Above The Rim and Gridlock’d as well as his cameo in the terrible movie Nothing But Trouble are all mentioned or even reenacted. Strangely though, his most prolific role, in the Janet Jackson movie Poetic Justice, isn’t mentioned once.
While I liked the inclusions of these movies, I can understand these scenes have no real value to the average movie goer. They come to see a movie about Tupac the rapper, not Tupac the guy who acted in a few movies. None of which are actually memorable, save for Juice maybe, which is one of the better Hood movies made.
I think All Eyez on Me would have been better if if had a more narrow focus. Now it seems to be much of a greatest hits album, just going over all of the pivotal moments in his career but never taking the time to explore them deeper. The result is a superficial movie that seems like a Lifetime biopic with a bigger budget.