The startling physical likeness of actor Demetrius Shipp Jr. and rapper Tupac Shakur is almost eerie. Shipp Jr. does an excellent job as the nearly mythological 2pac, in a film that is greatly aided by the exhausting hard work of its lead performer. Director Benny Boom, whose eclectic credits range from the Outkast musical Idlewild to the direct-to-DVD Swat 2, is the man behind the camera in bringing the story of the slain musician to the screen. He’s got an eye for recreation, but when tasked with delivering an impactful film (or ending) he is proven out of his depth.
All Eyez on Me tracks the life of Shakur (Shipp Jr.) and parallels his struggles with those of his mother Afeni Shakur (Danai Gurira). While Tupac was rising in fame and financial gains, Afeni is shown battling an addiction to crack cocaine and the film hints at the promiscuous way in which she feeds her habit. The human element of the picture is most vividly rendered in the form of Tupac’s friendship with fellow classmate Jada Pinkett (Kat Graham). As presented here, the bond between the characters gives both actors moments to shine and present the story with the heart it needs to even remotely justify it’s 142-minute running time.
This film does possess the compelling narrative or filmmaking excellence that made Straight Outta Compton an unequivocal masterpiece. All Eyez on Me isn’t even quite on the level of a HBO films original. Yes, the performances are good and the film has a few captivating scenes, but when the movie concludes the whole experience seems cheap and shallow. This picture lacks the professional elegance of Compton and the emotional impact of Notorious.
Director: Benny Boom
Stars: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Kat Graham, Lauren Cohan