There is actually such a thing as trying a little too hard…
While All Eyez On Me thoroughly gets through all of the major moments in the life of Tupac Shakur it is also a little too scattershot not letting any kind of story or narrative have a chance to breathe.
All Eyez On Me is a chronicle of the life that was rapper Tupac Shakur from his humble beginnings through his turbulent rise to fame and his ultimate final demise. This is the story of the life that defined him and the music that made him the icon that he is.
Ultimately a movie that suffers from too little of a narrative and too much on the facts, All Eyez On Me kind of plays in an odd similarity to the career of Tupac Shakur himself. Sometimes there are flashes of brilliance with a very solid performance from Demetrius Shipp Jr as Tupac in his very first role, but it’s also got some overloaded moments of nonsense and wasted opportunity as well.
Director Benny Boom just doesn’t have enough experience with the narrative form of storytelling coming from music videos and behind the scenes documentaries so a lot of these really does play like a re-enactment in a documentary or a DVD extra. The script is OK, but it loads in so many moments from his life over and over…and over again that there just aren’t any chances for character development or even a basic sense of evolution. It’s a movie where we know the end of the ride, which is obviously fine but you do have to massage the edges of it all, if only a little bit to make it all play a little more pleasurable. It’s a well shot, good looking affair but when telling the tale of such an iconic subject, some nuance is required to bring it over the line and outside of the leading man; it just wasn’t to be found in this picture.
Undoubtedly cast in the leading role based on h is uncanny resemblance to the deceased rapper; Demetrius Shipp Jr does actually bring some pathos in those quite moments with Shakur. While he’s a loud, braggadocios character on one end, when he gets to be human and intimate, Shipp allows his softer and more conflicted side come out. It’s a unique debut to be sure, but it would have been nice if there had been any kind of quality performances or character development outside of Shipp. It made the whole things feel like a Coles notes version of his life as we never really go deep into anything.
At the end of the day with All Eyez On Me, you can’t help but shake the feeling that Tupac as a person and as an artist really deserved better. Had we gotten something that really went deep into what a prolific and often tortured artist that he was, the film could have been really special rather than the paint by numbers bio pic that it was.
- Release Date: 6/16/2017
- Directed by: Benny Boom