NOTORIOUS is the story of Christopher Wallace. Through raw talent and sheer determination, Wallace transforms himself from Brooklyn street hustler (once selling crack to pregnant women) to one of the greatest rappers of all time; THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. Follow his meteoric rise to fame and his refusal to succumb to expectations - redefining our notion of "The American Dream."Written by
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Megan Good auditioned for the role of Lil' Kim. See more »
After Biggie records "Sky is the Limit" a view of the New York skyline appears showing the New York Times building. Construction of this building began in 2003 was completed in 2007. The scene takes place 1997. See more »
[voiceover / last lines]
My son, Christopher Wallace, told stories. Some of them were funny, some of them were sad, some of them were violent, but people listened. I'm saddened that his life was cut down at the age of 24...
...but I find solace in knowing that he became a man, and he was ready to live.
As I looked out at all those faces; something happened. Someone in the crowd turned on their radio, and I could hear my son's voice!
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The unrated cut features seven minutes of extended footage as well as an opening sequence involving the "Impala SS" killer. See more »
This film reminded me of The Sopranos, and not in a good way.
David Chase's seminal mob opera only ever put its foot wrong twice, the most jarring and inexplicable instance of which took place in its fourth season, when Junior Soprano went on trial for his life. Rather than pursue this riveting (and pivotal) plot line, the writers instead chose to completely ignore it, focusing instead on Bobby Baccalieri's constant whimpering over his recently deceased wife's frozen pasta dish.
When something of genuine interest happens in Notorious - for example that first, mysterious assassination attempt on Tupac Shakur that ignited the whole East Coast/West Coast feud in the first place, and ended up leading to the deaths of both Tupac and Christopher Wallace - the film treats it as just another bit of plot to plod through. Why exactly was Tupac so convinced that he was sold out by his own people? Did he alone nurture his subsequent affiliation with Suge Knight? And was Lil' Kim's transformation from prim office drone into sex-obsessed, vampish diva really as banal as it appears here?
None of these questions are even fleetingly addressed by the film's screenwriters, who are far more interested in depicting Wallace's turbulent love life to zero compelling dramatic avail. These sequences (including a brain-frazzlingly clichéd groupie indescretion in a hotel room) are so toothless and bruisingly manipulative that the only real comparison to be made is with a network TV movie.
The storytelling, in both structure and content, is simplistic and trite. But more fundamentally, as a biopic; as something designed to celebrate its subject and educate the uninitiated on the intricacies of their life and work; the film is almost entirely worthless. The reliance on meat-and-potatoes genre plotting, coupled with the lifeless musical performances (an area in which a film like this should soar, surely) result in a film that appears to have been designed only to satisfy the whims and demands of those involved, leaving Wallace's questionable status as a giant in his field as the preserve of the easily persuaded and previously converted only.
And the final twenty minutes, in which Wallace's posthumous cultural identity is broadly painted as being akin to that of a latter day saint, quite frankly made me feel like throwing up.
On that score, much as with any other, Notorious is crass, calculating and compromised.
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