Reviews & Previews - Notorious

Posted on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 05:00 PM


By: S. Tran

Starring: Jamal Wollard, Derek Luke, Antonique Smith, Angela Bassett
Directed By: George Tillman Jr.
Rated: R

B.I.G. Has Small Appeal

The trouble with films based on real life people is that their story has to be something amazing or the person has to be someone who changed the world. Despite the film trying to convince you otherwise Christopher Wallace (a.k.a Biggie Smalls) did not change the world unless you were a hard core rap fan and his story is not so compelling that non fans would rush to see this movie.

The movie is a retelling of Wallace's (Wollard) rise to fame from a street hustler in Brooklyn dealing drugs to one of the most popular rappers of all time. While its mildly interesting to see how he first meets Sean Combs (Luke) and Faith Evans (Smith) there really isn't anything about his life that really makes his story stand out except perhaps his tragic death. Even then, his death is one of many in the sometimes violence prone rap world. Added to this is the fact that Wallace's own body of work only consisted of two albums before he died.

Throughout the film the characters talk about changing themselves before changing the world but we don't get a chance to see any of this real change. It's hinted at just before his death but for much of the film Wallace behaves much like the stereotypical rapper, living a life of bling and women.

Wollard does a good job playing the famous rapper. I have no idea what Wallace was like in real life but Wollard makes the character likable and he does a credible job in the rapping scenes. As his mother Angela Bassett looks terrific and gives maybe the best performance in the movie. The rest of the cast do a good job with their roles and I don't have any real complaints, its just that most of the characters don't have much depth as they are all just satellites orbiting Biggie's world.

The extended musical pieces should appeal to fans of the late rapper and the director does a good job keeping the film moving. There's nothing groundbreaking in the movie but its all handled professionally. However, a slickly done film still cant hide the lack of substance in the subject matter. Even Wallace's death does not seem to provoke the change the is spoken about so often in the film as the rap world today seems very similar to what it was when he died from what I can tell.

If you are a big fan of Wallace this is probably something you will want to see. Otherwise there is no real reason to spend your money in the theaters.


2.5 out of 5 stars.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to