Review: Straight Outta Compton

A palpable sense of timely relevance helps this musical biopic overcome the formulaic traps that fell almost every other contemporary addition to the genre. Which isn’t to say that Straight Outta Compton doesn’t rely on biopic formula in its own way. But that said, the events on display have so much retroactive power, it’s impossible not to pump your fist.

Director F. Gary Gray and his collaborators deserve credit for how successfully they have distilled N.W.A.’s overall ‘F**k You’ ‘tude into a populist celebration of speaking one’s truth. Cinematic swagger is hard to pull off, but this film is overflowing with it.

The subsequent fates of the characters at the film’s core (Dr Dre. Ice Cube and Eazy-E) undoubtedly inform the proceedings, but the film never resorts to ominous foreshadowing for its drama. Many of the individual moments work on their own terms. The early performance sequences are insane. Snoop Dogg is believable. Suge Knight is scary.

The tangible ass-kicking spirit that drives much of Straight Outta Compton makes it easier to forgive the film’s complete lack of an ending of any kind – it pretty much just stops. But the power of what came before remains.

With Dre and Cube producers on the project, there’s an undeniable element of self-mythologising to factor in, but that doesn’t diminish the film either. This is some of the most bad-ass self-mythologising ever committed to screen.

‘Straight Outta Compton’ Movie Times

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