Starring: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell
Director: F. Gary Gray
Running Time: 147 mins
Straight Outta Compton is an American film about the rise of the rap group NWA from the streets of Compton, the members’ internal conflicts, and the band’s troubled relationship with the racist police who continually persecuted them for their music about life in the hood.
This is a hugely fascinating true story, full of exciting danger and shocking political commentary. It’s a tale that’s almost impossible to not be interested in, whether or not you’re a fan of the rap genre, whilst its excellent performances across the board really help to make it all the more engrossing.
So, let’s get into this intriguing story. The first thing to say about this is that it really stands out amongst the multitude of music biopics because it’s got a much deeper, more impacting story than your textbook genre movie.
Normally, these sort of films only focus on the meteoric rise of a band, and its inevitable break-up and demise due to personal differences. Whilst that formula is always based around real life, and is followed in this film too, it’s just not the most intriguing story to follow, because it’s been overplayed so much.
And although Straight Outta Compton does delve into the demise of NWA like the normal formula, for a lot of the duration, the band isn’t even the main topic. The first hour is hugely fascinating, because, as well as showing the rapid rise of the band, there’s a significant plot regarding the police persecution of black people in the Compton area for no good reason.
That’s by far the most fascinating part of the movie, because it shows an incredibly shocking political story that fits in well with the dangerous nature of the band and its music, whilst it also points to modern day and recent controversies including the Ferguson unrest after the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.
What’s more is that the film looks at the influence and importance of the band’s lyrics in changing the voice of African-Americans in the USA. It shows them as hugely significant in bringing to light this persecution, as well as changing the attitudes of the rest of the US towards places like Compton, and the plight of the people living there.
And whilst all that continues on throughout the film, there is a big drop-off in the final hour, where a lot more is focussed on the band’s internal conflicts. I won’t spoil the story for you in case you don’t know the history, but I will say that the final hour, until the last ten minutes, doesn’t really pack the same punch that the first act did, which was a little disappointing.
Away from the story, the performances here deserve huge credit. O’Shea Jackson Jr., playing his dad, Ice Cube, is brilliant, whilst Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell, playing Dr. Dre and Eazy-E respectively are fantastic in showing the incredible characters that these people were, and turn their stories into a hugely fascinating watch from start to finish, and that’s why this gets an 8.0 from me.