Straight Outta Compton follows the rise of controversial rap group N.W.A. Their journey to stardom is easily a story worth retelling as it hits on topics all over the spectrum from gang violence to race wars to the atrocities that exist in the music business. While it’s not a film you’ll be pushed to watch more than once, it’s definitely one that everyone should see at least once.
You can’t talk about a film about a music group without mentioning the music itself. Straight Outta Compton not only provides a solid soundtrack, but gives you deeper insight into how some of the songs were created. We’re used to the finished product, but it’s rare that we get a glimpse into the process of the song and the reasoning behind its creation. While a song like “Fuck the Police” might be pretty self-explanatory in its inception, a perfect chain of events brought the song to life.
The film captures your attention from the beginning. Easy E (Jason Mitchell) enters a dope house to collect on some money owed to him. It’s a tense interaction that ends in a S.W.A.T. swarming the house. You see Easy running from rooftop to rooftop while helicopters scan the perimeter. Just another day in Compton.
N.W.A. lived out a sensational career from their freaky beach parties to their crazy tour bus antics. Yet in still, as you’re watching it unfold on the big screen, none of it ever appears to be oversensationalized. I never found myself saying, “Ok, that’s probably a stretch.” That’s a big reason as to why it was so enticing to watch.
Strong performances from the cast helped carry the movie as well. The group members weren’t granted equal screen time, but each played their role in excellent fashion. I honestly can’t say that I favored one over the other.
Here’s where the movie could have used a little bit of a boost: It refused to ever dive under the surface of the relationship between these five young men. Sure we saw the houses, the partying, the tours. However, I never got a full sense of who these characters were as brothers growing up in a less than appealing environment. What were they like when they weren’t around the music and the women and cameras? In a society today where terms like “Black Lives Matter” receive divisive responses, it would have been nice to see the heart that beat behind these men. To somehow show that they were more than just music, money, and parties. Missed opportunity in my opinion.
Solid movie that was good, but could have been exceptional. I give it a 77.