All Eyez On Me is suppose to tell the true and untold story of rapper, actor, and activist Tupac Shakur, but does it?
Tupac Shakur was one of the most colorful artists in Rap, and we get a lot of what made him colorful in this biopic. Director Benny Boom runs the script with a reporter conducting an interview of Tupac, and each question is answered by showing snippets of scenes from his life. Does this work? It feels a bit like looking at a photo album, and asking questions about each photo, followed by a video clip of what made the photo beautiful. In that end, we discover things about his life that we probably knew or didn’t know in more depth.
With so much to choose from, Director Benny Boom finds himself in a situation where he is the only kid in the candy store. Should he choose from his favorite candies, or should he empty the store? Unfortunately, he tries to empty the store and the character Tupac suffers for that error. I once watched my daughter, then 4 catch free balloons at an event. The blown up balloons floated in the air and she comfortably caught 3, but when she attempted for her 4th, and 5th, she lost all 3, and ended up finally with 2. Sounds like fuzzy maths? It probably is. My point is the director could have focused on one aspect of Tupac’s life and give us the details on his character that grabbed us and take us on a journey where we can laugh and cry with him. I would have recommend his life as an activist.
Danai Gurira is great in her role as Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mom. We learn about her association with Black Panther Movement as an activist. She paved the way for a young Tupac to become a revolutionary activist. What “All Eyez On Me,” does well is the portrayal of the relationship between Tupac and his mother. We see instances where she is strong, and he is a star on the rise. We then see her in her weak moments, and he in his strong moments reminding her that she is strong. Then we see her being strong, as she urges him in his weakest moment to keep his head up.
There are strong performances from Dominic Santana as Suge Knight, a character so complex that he needs a movie of his own. Also outstanding is Jarret Ellis as Snoop. The audience fell all over his character for his truthful and sometimes comical portrayal of a smart and witty Snoop.
“All Eyez On Me,” shows us many things we’ve seen before in movies and added nothing new to those events. We’ve seen the FBI raids. We’ve seen the police brutality against Blacks. We’ve seen the music industry take advantage of artists. We’ve seen Blacks distrust each other to the point of destroying each other. So what makes “All Eyez On Me,” worth 2h and 20min at the theater? For one, you will enjoy watching Demetrius Shipp Jr. playing the role of Tupac Shakur. You will enjoy the clips of the music featured in the film and their relevance to the scene. You will feel frustrated by some of he errors in judgement he’s made. You will enjoy seeing Tupac in his role as an activist. Unfortunately you will wish that this would have been the main focus of the film to keep all eyes on him. I think the scene where Jada Pinkett played by Kat Graham confronts Tupac about his lyrics pertaining to the singer Faith Evans in one of his songs, paints a great picture of one of the pitfalls of “All Eyez On Me.” It needed to narrow its focus to help a fictional portrayal of Tupac keep his head up.
“All Eyez On Me,” is a good film, but not a great one. How do I know? Audience claps at the end of a great film, but at the end of a good film? They say politely, “I enjoyed it.”