DRAMA; 2hr 7min
STARRING: O’Shea Jackson, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr, Paul Giamatti
Damn straight: from left, Hodge, Brown, Hawkins, Mitchell and Jackson
Compton, South Central Los Angeles, in 1986 is so hard core when you’re black that the police need policing in director F. Gary Gray’s rip-roaring biopic. Its boiling street energy is a ferment that brews the throbbing pulse of “reality rap” and turns raw hood boys O’Shea Jackson (Jackson, rapper Ice Cube’s son), Andre Young (Hawkins), Eric Wright (Mitchell), Lorenzo Patterson (Hodge) and Antoine Carraby (Brown) into Ice Cube, Dr Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella.
Mentored by quietly controlling music manager Jerry Heller (Giamatti), they become the hip-hop, ball-busting force of N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes). Bursting under a blazing spotlight in 1988, the furious, profance showmanship of their debut album, Straight Outta Compton, is a trailblazer to fame and infamy.
Success is the usual wild high, with drugs, guns and girls on tap (women are essentially a footnote here) and general, gold-plated opulence. The way down is no pleasure cruise, spiked by financial rivalry, resentment, disillusionment and death. But answered prayers never do get old and Gray’s hectic, 10-year tale is a thumping cautionary ride.