HOLLYWOOD—I had been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the “All Eyez on Me” film chronicling the life of rapper Tupac Shakur. However, this movie is not what fans who grew up listening to the rapper’s music or following his life will expect. There is a major disclaimer that I have to point out, this is not a full-fledged biopic; this is more a biographical drama. That is quite important for me to point out, as the film dramatizes various facets of the story that might leave some people scratching their head or wondering what actually transpired.
There are a lot of characters in this movie, so I’m only paying focus on those that are of importance in my personal opinion. Of course, the man of the hour has to be Demetrius Shipp Jr. who is uncanny in his appearance as the rapper. If Tupac Shakur wasn’t dead and this movie didn’t exist, you would absolutely think this guy was the real deal. Shipp does a phenomenal job delivering a multi-layered performance of a real-life character that was not in any fashion one-note; Tupac was a character, and there were many layers to him, which Shipp unearths as the narrative moves forward.
Tupac was more than just a rapper, he was a poet, a man who was well aware of the social change that needed to be implemented in America in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. We learn as a child, Tupac had to grapple with his mother Afeni Shakur (Danai Gurira) who was a member of the Black Panther Party and a political activist. Man this woman was wise beyond her years and echoed so much in the past that should be of importance today in terms of social dynamics.
I do believe the film does a solid job at establishing the relationship between Tupac and his mother and the influence she had on his life. However, my biggest issue with the film is its constant bouncing around in the narrative. The direction seems to be all over the place, and as a result it takes constant adjustments from the viewer to attempt to reintegrate themselves into the narrative to follow the dots is this complicated puzzle. We go from the rapper being in jail telling a story, to jumping to the present to jumping to the past.
I loved seeing the evolution of the relationship between Tupac and Jada Pinkett (Kat Graham), but for those who are venturing into the movie, you might want to steer clear of social media as Pinkett is no fan of her portrayal in the movie noting some scenes as not being 100 percent accurate compared to her real-life account. I mean if you’re going to put together a biopic of sorts, it might be wise as a writer and director to go to the actual source to obtain those details to ensure accuracy for the viewer.
There are things about Tupac’s life that viewers will be surprised to learn about while watching, like his relationship to the Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard). These guys were not always rivals, they were actually close friends in the beginning people, and of course we can’t forget about Shakur’s relationship with Suge Knight (Dominic L. Santana).
Perhaps the biggest frustration with “All Eyez On Me” is the desire to want more from the movie. There seems to be holes that are not filled, questions are raised that you want answers to. If you’re thinking you’ll get a perspective or hint at who was responsible for Tupac’s fatal shooting in Las Vegas in 1996, think again. No answer here people. The movie has so many elements, but the cohesion is so fractured it fails to deliver the dramatic punch that it should present to the audience.