F. Gary Gray
O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Neil Brown Jr.
“Straight Outta Compton” tells the story of the N.W.A., a west coast rap group that caused a monumental shift in the whole genre. Founding members of the group included Andre “Dr. Dre” Romelle Young (Hawkins), Eric “Eazy E” Wright (Mitchell), O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson (Jackson Jr.), Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson (Hodge) and Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby (Brown Jr.).
The film follows their rise, from creating their first album to going on tour and the eventual group break-up that occurred in the early 1990s.
The greatest strength of “Straight Outta Compton” is how it captures the passion, energy and anger that the actual rap group brought to hip hop. The N.W.A. had a lot to say in its first album and the film makes it a point to show the artists’ frustrations with their surroundings. Watching the group come together, go on tour and challenge authority not only creates an interesting story, but makes for an entertaining biopic.
The first two acts of the picture are exceptional, showcasing how the rappers made points about societal issues that are still relevant today. Unfortunately, the third act of “Straight Outta Compton” was a bit weaker. As history shows, the rap group began to split over differences with their manager, with Ice Cube going to New York and Dr. Dre starting Death Row Records. The main problem is that the film starts jumping back and forth between the different artists resulting in the last 45 minutes being less cohesive.
With that said, though, the film as a whole is still solid in many aspects. Even the third act, which is weaker than the first two, still provides intrigue into what happened to the rappers.
The casting in “Compton” was simply phenomenal. O’Shea Jackson Jr. for example, who played his father Ice Cube, was spot on. Not only does he obviously look like his father, he captured the ferocity Ice Cube brings to his art work.
The same can be said about Hawkins and Mitchell who played Dr. Dre and Eazy E respectively. Both of their characters had heavy emotional moments and the actors nail those scenes.
Praise can also be given to Paul Giamatti who played manager Jerry Heller. While the rap group at different times had heated moments with him, Heller was never shown in a truly villainous way. All of the real people portrayed in “Compton” were portrayed honestly and it added to the realism of the movie as a whole.
The music in the film was great, too. Not only did it feature songs by the N.W.A., but other songs of the era as well, which helped show the evolution of rap that occurred in the late 80s and early 90s.
Overall, “Straight Outta Compton” is one of the better musical biopics made in the last few years. Despite a weaker third act, there are so many aspects of the movie that are award caliber. 4 out of 5.