George Tillman Jr.’s biopic about the life and death of hip-hop superstar Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls, feels “incomplete” and surprisingly “square,” said Robert Wilonsky in The Village Voice. Notorious (watch the trailer here, via YouTube) follows the “crack dealer who becomes an iconic rapper who becomes a tragic legend,” but the movie doesn’t fully examine his unsolved murder, and is careful “to burnish the legend without tarnishing it.”

Notorious is less interested in Smalls’ murder than in his “growth and influence as an artist,” said John Anderson in Variety. Because of that, the movie has “a propulsive narrative drive.” And Jamal Woolard is great as Smalls—"he cuts a figure at once sympathetic, comic, deceptively charming, and occasionally cunning.”

Notorious “has terrific performances, a powerful soundtrack and eye-catching visuals,” said Kirk Honeycutt in The Hollywood Reporter. But as “complex and involving” as the movie is, it “never quite gives the full picture of its enigmatic central figure.” In the end, this movie “can't quite solve the mystery of who was Biggie.”