Unlike Tupac’s hip hop beats that fuse the film together, All Eyez On Me is a film that struggles with its rhythm and pacing. It jumps sporadically through time periods of Tupac’s life leaving little time to empathise and really get to know the character. At times, All Eyez On me feels like a video version of reading a Wikipedia page, devoid of emotion and ticking the boxes on key parts of the music icon’s life. Aside from the music and a pretty good performance by Demetrius Shipp Jr. playing Tupac himself, the film does not do justice to the illustrious life of Tupac Shakur.
The story starts with Tupac’s Mum, a political activisit and member of the Black Panther Party as she struggles with an unjust American system whilst raising Tupac and his brother. Its during this time that the frenetic, jumbled pace of the film is at its worst and is relentless for around an hour or so. It flirts back and forth between Tupac in prison as he retells his early days and short, snappy scenes of his actual life. The problem with this is with the disjointed nature of the editing. For long stretches of the film it feels like a bunch of scenes stitched together with no real thought and with the sole purpose of checking off key moments in Tupac’s life. Around the hour mark it slows down, with longer scenes and periods of his life explored in more detail. The time he’s in prison and the controversial time with Death Row Records make up the meat of the second half but by the time it starts to get into a rhythm, it comes far too late on in a film that feels overlong and unneccessarily bloated.
Its difficult to say who this film’s targeted at. Its too blase to cater to those die hard fans who know Tupac’s illustrious life and too vague to cater to the average moviegoer. What you get then is a film unsure of its own identity, flitting between key scenes in the man’s life with no real thought and structure. Its a shame because with better editing and some more thought put into showcasing Tupac’s childhood it could be a better film but the assumption that we should know who all the characters are with no backstory or character motivations makes it hard to recommend this film to anyone unfamiliar with the material.
The soundtrack is the shining jewel in an otherwise dull film and its where All Eyez On Me thrives. The hip hop and r’n’b music not only evolves through the time periods, it does justice to the rapper by showcasing some of the key hits through his life with an interesting part of text accompanying each song with a release date, label it was released on and the track title. Its only a little touch but its one that’s clever and actually does justice to the material.
Overall, All Eyez On Me is a disappointing look into the prolific rapper’s life. The first hour or so is edited poorly, jumping from one abrupt scene to the next, stitched together with Tupac talking in prison about his childhood. The sporadic nature of the scenes do slow down for a more character driven second half and with a decent hip hop soundtrack throughout, there is promise here. All Eyez On Me feels like a film made with rough cliffnotes, checking off key moments in the rapper’s life with little thought to character development or emotion. Going into this film I had one key question – who is Tupac Shakur? Coming out of this film I’m still left with the same question – who is Tupac Shakur? All Eyez On Me is certainly not the answer.