Newcomer Jamal Woolard stars as Notorious B.I.G. in this biopic of the rap icon, who was killed at age 24.
NotoriousDirected by George Tillman Jr.(R)
The life story of rapper Notorious B.I.G.
Notorious is a “B.I.G. disappointment,” said Chris Richards in The Washington Post. The film chronicles the life and death of rap icon Notorious B.I.G., who was killed, at 24, just before the release of his foreboding Life After Death. Director George Tillman Jr. tries to cover every stage of Biggie’s life, “making for a frustrating dash from the playground to grave, all in under two hours.” His infidelities, his mother’s fight with breast cancer, and his rivalry with Tupac Shakur clip by in a “music-video-paced race.” As a result, the film plays like a “VH1 TV movie,” said Nathan Rabin in The Onion. Like many biopics, Notorious suffers from a “tendency to reduce complicated life to a greatest-hits assemblage of melodramatic highs and agonizing lows.” Notorious skimps on details but at least stays true to the “hellbent spirit of Biggie’s life,” said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. Newcomer Jamal Woolard delivers an uncanny lead performance that helps make Notorious a “luridly unapologetic trip through the violence, hunger, verbal bravado, and money fever of the hip-hop world.”