By Nico Beland
Movie Review: A (3 ½ stars)
Director F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Negotiator, The Italian Job) joins forces with big name rap superstars, Ice Cube (Boyz n the Hood, Friday, 21 Jump Street) and Dr. Dre (Training Day, The Wash) to bring the incredible true story about a rap group’s battle for freedom of speech and human rights to the screen in Straight Outta Compton, named after the rap group, NWA (N*ggas with Attitude)’s first album. When I first saw the posters, ads, and constant memes, I wasn’t sure what this movie was supposed to be, that and I don’t follow rap music that much, but after seeing talented people like Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Paul Giamatti (Win Win, Duplicity, Saving Mr. Banks) starring in the film and the incredibly positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I decided to gave the film a viewing and I can gladly say it’s one of the best rap movies I’ve seen since Hustle & Flow and 8 Mile.
The movie manages to balance between an inspirational biographical music drama about the origins and success of a rap group, an intense gangster film, and a movie about freedom of speech and discrimination. But what makes the film truly shine is the chemistry between the NWA members, they’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry, and they’ll make you dance, that and when the intense moments happen, they feel uncomfortably real and tragic, but don’t worry it’s not 12 Years A Slave uncomfortable.
In the mid-1980s the streets of Compton were some of the most dangerous streets in the country. You name it gangs, violence and murders; corrupt law enforcement, to name a few.
Fed up with it all, five young men translate their experiences growing up into brutally honest rap music that rebelled against abusive authority. Consisting of the late Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell-Texas Killing Fields, Contraband), Ice Cube (himself), Dr. Dre (himself), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge-The Ladykillers, A Good Day to Die Hard, The East), and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.-Out of Time, Never Back Down, Battle: Los Angeles) these then-newcomer rappers join forces to become the rap group, NWA and fight for freedom of speech and against discrimination towards African-Americans, with brutally honest songs like Fuck Da Police and Straight Outta Compton about the corrupt police force in Compton and how they arrest and harass African-American people, even if they didn’t do anything.
From fines and jail time to riots in the city and money scandals with their former manager of Ruthless Records, Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), NWA will do anything to get their message across to the world about freedom of speech and ending corrupt law enforcement.
Overall, Straight Outta Compton is a very ambitious project, but the cast and crew pull it off very well, with solid acting from the lead cast, dope rap songs that’ll make you dance, intense and emotional drama, and a very important moral, especially for rising star rappers. The origin stories of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and the rest of the NWA are executed very well and they even talk about Dr. Dre’s collaboration with Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube’s successful film career with Boyz n the Hood and Friday, which were both critical and commercial hits when they came out in theaters.
The film also teaches lessons about scams involving record managers and how violent they can get, certainly some very helpful advice for newcomer rappers. It proves that sometimes a criminal can be working with you when you’re big in the industry.
The songs the group performs in the clubs and stages are amazing and will certainly make you bop your heads, tap your feet, and stand up in the theater and cheer, it makes me want to buy their first album. Even the aggressive Fuck Da Police song is well choreographed, catchy, and it makes a very strong point about how corrupt law enforcement can be.
If you’re a fan of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and rap music in general, you’ll love Straight Outta Compton, the music, moral, and plot are executed very well and is both informative and entertaining, though I’m not entirely sure how accurate the film is to the real events, but I’ve heard it covers most of what happened. But as a movie I strongly recommend it to both moviegoers and music enthusiasts.
FUCK DA POLICE AND FUCK DISCRIMINATION!