Last Man Standing: Suge Knight and the Murders of Biggie & Tupac
Time Out says
In this follow-up to his 2002 doc ‘Biggie & Tupac’, documentarian Nick Broomfield takes on the law with mixed results
The fact that no one has been convicted for the murders of rap superstars Christopher ‘Notorious B.I.G.’ Wallace and Tupac ‘2Pac’ Shakur more than 25 years on says one of two things: that the lives of two young black men aren’t worthy of the judiciary’s full attention, or that the law enforcement community was actively involved. It’s probably both, suggests Nick Broomfield’s follow-up to his none-more-visceral 2002 doc Biggie & Tupac, a film doesn’t even need to point out that that odds on the murder of two white musicians of similar statue being left unpunished would be almost zero.
Revisiting the crime scenes all these years on provides Broomfield with plenty to update on, though still no smoking gun to bring home. The fate of whistleblowing former LAPD man, Russell Poole, a key figure in the first movie and another injustice in a story full of them, provides connective tissue with the first film. Poole threw the spotlight on vicious rap impresario Suge Knight and his intimate connection with LAPD officers – and paid a heavy price for it.
Broomfield admits that his respect for Poole helped lead him back to the story, but he returns a different kind of filmmaker. The fearless, no-shits-given door knocking of Biggie & Tupac gives way to a more talking-head-dependent, conventional style. Back in 2002, Broomfield was basically a bull in a china shop full of other, bigger bulls – many of them with guns. It was juiced up with the kind of nervous energy you get pursuing dangerous men with annoyingly persistent questions.
You wait for that adrenalised edge and maybe even another decisive encounter with Knight, but neither comes. When the Brit hits the streets of Compton again, he has allies on the ground this time and hard-won trust yields revealing interviews with former staff at Death Row Records. Tupac, the man, gets a deeper profile this time. Fingers for his death, and Biggie’s, again point to dirty cops in the pay of a rap CEO who bought them with cash and hip-hop glamour. Frustratingly, they all remain out of reach for even this most dogged documentarian. ‘They’re from England,’ says Broomfield’s local fixer, Pam Brooks. ‘Remember? They’re crazy!’ Just maybe not as crazy this time.
In UK cinemas now. In US theaters and on PVOD Aug 20.