Story of a promising high school basketball star and his relationships with two brothers, one a drug dealer and the other a former basketball star fallen on hard times and now employed as a security guard.
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
In a brief establishing shot of Los Angeles, the Staples Center can be seen. This building did not exist during Biggie's lifetime (Biggie died in 1997; construction for the Staples Center broke ground in 1998 and opened in 1999). See more »
Ending Title Card:
Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G., did not live to see the release of his second album. That album, "Life After Death," went on to sell 10 million copies worldwide. With his success, he proved that no dream is too big. The sky is the limit.
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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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