There are plenty of musical biopics out there. Whenever a new one comes along, it’s hard not to think, “Does this really deserve a movie?” But, if there’s anybody who deserves it, it’s N.W.A., whose relentless fight for freedom is made for film. And under F. Gary Gray’s impeccable direction, Straight Outta Compton is a worthy biopic for the men with feelings.
Beginning with N.W.A.’s inception in 1986, Straight Outta Compton covers a decade of success and failure surrounding Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.).
This delicate story is handled with tremendous care by the screenwriters. With Andrea Berloff’s original script and Jonathan Herman’s re-write, the script for this movie doesn’t hold back a single punch. This is a brutal movie to watch at times, really driving home what these guys went through on a daily basis.
The big problem with the script is the lack of attention to certain issues involving the N.W.A. (homophobia and misogyny especially). Not shining light on those glaring problems feels a little dishonest.
There’s particularly no excuse considering this two and a half hour flick loses its momentum a solid half hour before the credits roll, leaving plenty of time to represent those notable issues. Not to say that last half hour was bad, some of the best dramatic moments of the year happen in that last half hour, but I started feeling a little antsy around that time. Maybe shining some light on those issues (or giving poor MC Ren and DJ Yella something to do) would’ve fixed that problem.
Mitchell, Hawkins, and Jackson steal the show. The emotion and energy in these performances is a sight to behold (Jason Mitchell as Easy-E is a knockout). Supporting roles were great too, with Paul Giamatti soaking up most of the supporting screentime and acing it.
The real star here is director F. Gary Gray. The constant gritty and dreary look of the movie kept a consistent tone when our characters were going through such a monumental change. It all made for a very personal movie, especially with the shaky-cam giving off a documentary feel that Gray should be praised for.
No other 2015 Summer movie has the gravitas and energy this movie has. The movie lost a bit of that energy in the final stretch, but this biopic is still firing on all cylinders up until that point thanks to outstanding performances and exceptional direction from F. Gary Gray.