Director F. Gary Gray tells the true story of the formation and career of N.W.A, the world's most dangerous rap group. From rags to riches, we see the story through from the beginning of N.W.A up until it's timely demise when it died with artist Eazy E.
The film focuses on Ice Cube, Dr Dre and Eazy E with MC Ren and DJ Yella taking supporting roles. From their small beginnings to global stardom, Gray directs a very by the books biopic that is electrifying to watch. It certainly helps to have at least some knowledge of the N.W.A story when watching the film especially when characters such as Suge Knight and Tupac are brought into the story. It's fascinating to see the impact N.W.A had on the world up on the big screen.
O'Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell star as Ice Cube, Dr Dre and Eazy E, the three best known members of N.W.A and all do a fantastic job with Jason Mitchell stealing the show as Eric 'Eazy E' Wright. With the real life Dr Dre and Ice Cube acting as producers on the film, their characters never get the full treatment they should have. Most notably some of Dr Dre's more violent incidents don't even get touched upon in the film. With the passing of Eazy E in the 90's, his character feels like the most explored and was the one I was connected to most out of the trio. Cube and Dre still have their public image and careers to protect and it's obvious to see why they wouldn't want to detail some of their past in a feature film. Paul Giamattia does an incredible job as the group's manager Jerry Heller who fights for the group and gets them out into the world.
In the film, F. Gary Gray shows us a lot more than I was expecting, I was anticipating just the formation of the group and how they dealt with law enforcement and getting their music heard but this is a full biopic, detailing when the group split, the attempt to bring it back together and when it ended with lead artist Eazy E. That's unfortunately one of the issues the film has, there seems to be a little bit too much story and a lot of it feels rushed. As soon as N.W.A record their fist single 'Boyz N The Hood' they immediately blow up and I felt that the film could have paced that part of the story out a little better. Through their career, N.W.A really transformed the music community, creating Gangsta rap and putting their unique voices out there.
Straight Outta Compton is a definite fan-pleaser, showing the ideas for the songs coming from the reality N.W.A are living in and the artists such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur that they encounter. Gray does an excellent job of giving E, Cube and Dre the screen time they deserve, splitting it almost equally between the three.
The film's first half focuses on the creativeness of the group and their struggle with the world they're living in with law enforcement coming down heavily on the group. The second half switches into the business side of things with Ice Cube becoming a major solo artist and Dre getting out of his contract with Jerry Heller with the help of Suge Knight through threats of violence. Suge Knight acts as a villain in the picture and he was a very intimidating presence.
By far the most fascinating part of the film was the band's whole issue with their incredibly popular song 'Fuck Tha Police'. The Police hostility and harassment towards African American's in California at the time was disgusting and certainly influenced N.W.A.'s music. One scene which saw police nearly arrest the group because of how they're dressed really left an impact. Seeing the song come to fruition, be performed and impact the area especially with the 1992 LA riots was truly fascinating to see play out.
The film is a little too long and covers a bit too much story but the great performances, electrifying direction and cultural relevance make Straight Outta Compton a must see for 2015, this is both a powerful and incredibly entertaining music biopic.
Have you seen Straight Outta Compton? If so, let me know in the comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97