By Sean Armstrong | Staff Writer
All Eyez on Me is an honest depiction of Tupac Shakur’s life, and I intend for this to be an equally honest review. The film is clear cut in showing the controversial rapper as egotistical, consumed by rage and naÏvette. It also shows the other side of the icon, the side that is loyal, compassionate and a voice for those that otherwise had none.
Many will watch this film and hate him more than they did before; others will love him all the same. This divisiveness speaks to the quality of the film. For that, All Eyez should at least be given some thought and contemplation.
As the film depicts him, Tupac was forced into an unfair situation and remained there for the rest of his life. He never knew his biological father. Instead, he was raised by a leader of The Black Panther Party during a time when society denounced the movement. To many, the group was perceived as violent for their extremism in a fight that was, supposedly, already won.
As such, Tupac faced prejudice every day, a fact the film does not shy away from. The film also boldly shows the natural response anyone would have had in the face of that adversity, namely anger.
In fact, anger composes much of the fabric of this film and how Tupac felt: anger over racial treatment, anger over news networks’ depictions of him and anger over the many betrayals he suffered in his life.
Subject matter aside, the film, just like Tupac himself, had flaws. The approach to storytelling was a bit unusual and, unfortunately, ineffective. Tupac may not have lived very long, but accomplished plenty in the time he had. However, the film needed to be longer to demonstrate his prolificness rather than jumping around very quickly from point to point.
The film was a summation of Tupac’s life, and despite the stunning visual effects and cinematography, the viewer feels detached from the film as a whole. Characters are introduced seemingly out of nowhere, and many other subjects that are emblematic of Tupac as a person are mentioned once or twice then dropped from the movie.
The acting in the film is nothing that will be nominated for awards and it shouldn’t be; it’s not bad, but it is not great either. The film casts actors that look the part, to the point that they look almost identical to the people they are supposed to play, but the acting is not memorable. The actors simply deliver the lines as expected. The substance of this film lies in the moral lessons and the directness of the dialogue, not the delivery of the lines or the performance of the actors.
This was by no means a great film, but it is an important one. It tries to capture everything Tupac stands for — good and bad — in just 140 minutes. While All Eyez does stumble and fall in its attempt to capture everything, it is still worth a viewing. Rarely does a film give a depiction that is so straightforward of someone who died only a little over two decades ago.
All Eyez on Me is worth watching regardless of where you stand on your opinion of Tupac. It is the most honest depiction of the rapper I have ever seen. It reminds the audience that despite being anything but a perfect being, Tupac still deserves to be heard. Not everyone will agree with everything he believed in, but not everyone has to.