“Our art is a reflection of our reality.”
Deals with the devil, money, drugs, mansions, glory, violence, and tragedy, the story of N.W.A. is culturally defying and their voices were fundamentally essential in United States history. F. Gary Gray’s N.W.A biopic is no Oscar-contending picture by any means and has many shortcomings, but is undoubtedly entreating while also raising the same questions that have remained unanswered and importantly relevant for the last 25 years.
Straight Outta Compton tells us the viciously straightforward opera of the most infamous rap group emerging from the streets of Compton revolutionizing hip-hop and shifting a culture. The film provides us with electrifying breakout performances from O’Shea Jackson Jr., who plays the lyrical genius of his very own father, Ice Cube; Jason Mitchell, who plays the swaggering smart mouth Easy-E and Corey Hawkins who plays none other than the master himself, Dr. Dre.
Naturally, Act I delivers an excellent piece of storytelling, showing the origin of how this super group launched into pop culture while guiding us through the fire they had lit under society’s bottom. We find F. Gary Gray taking plays out of Martin Scorsese’s playbook with quick close ups, flashy crane, and half-assed Steadicam shots lacking its own style. Where as Act II begins to slowly loose its grip, wobbling back and forth nearly leaving behind the theme the film had provided for us in the first act. In textbook fashion, the feuds begin and the beef can be smelt. The lacking of luster that is Act III is sorely bogged down by loose ends that help set up the main conflict earlier on in the film that at some point had to be answered (either way, if they left it out, people would have criticized it, and by leaving it in people, criticize it. It’s a lose-lose situation). You will find that the final scene of the film wraps everything up in a nice bow and gives us the best possible closure that they could give the audience.
Although it is far from a perfect film, Straight Outta Compton raises the exact questions that launched the groups career and voice in the first place 25 years ago. The racial tension and freedom of speech issues that served as the film’s backbone is just as significant today as it was when the group had emerged. While “Fuck Tha Police” was N.W.A.’s warning, it feels like Straight Outta Compton is F. Gary Gary’s calling to arms for a staggering struggling culture.