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Straight Outta Compton

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Audience advisory: this enjoyable but authorised biopic of rap legends NWA contains clichés and avoids hard truths

Pioneers of ‘reality rap’ (we now call it gangsta) NWA deserve their own movie. No doubt. But is the often sentimental, occasionally dull ‘Straight Outta Compton’ the best version of that movie? Only partly. There’s enjoyable humour (and beautiful acting) as brow-furrowed, rhyme-scribbling teen Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr, Cube’s real-life lookalike son), shrewd drug dealer Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright (Jason Mitchell) and frustrated DJ Andre (Corey Hawkins) come together in the studio, hatch Ruthless Records and miracle a brilliant single into being, 1987’s ‘Boyz-n-the-Hood’.

But the film could use more than its whiff of radical revolution, which we get in scenes where the band is hassled by cops for simply standing on the corner. Invading a mainstream that would soon be dominated by Vanilla Ice, NWA came across like terrorists, and ‘Straight Outta Compton’ mostly forgets to include that larger cultural revulsion. Meanwhile, the group’s Jewish manager (Paul Giamatti) goes from friend to enemy, the city of Los Angeles explodes during the 1992 Rodney King riots, and we’re meant to be dramatically satisfied by… contract disputes?

There’s way too much inside money talk here, when a simpler plot – one about a band whose apocalyptic vision comes to pass – would have been plenty.

Written by Joshua Rothkopf

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 28 August 2015
  • Duration:147 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:F. Gary Gray
  • Screenwriter:Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman
  • Cast:
    • O'Shea Jackson Jr.
    • Corey Hawkins
    • Jason Mitchell
    • Paul Giamatti
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