September 30, 2022

<p>Beyond its fact and ideas, <em>Peace Officer</em> succeeds as a movie for the way it thoroughly breaks down the actual crime scenes of the specific events it covers.</p>

There are obvious hurdles any movie about N.W.A was going to have, but instead of solving those problems Straight Outta Compton just barrels forwards, resulting in a movie that just feels like the cliff notes version of their lives.

There are obvious hurdles any movie about N.W.A was going to have, but instead of solving those problems Straight Outta Compton just barrels forwards, resulting in a movie that just feels like the cliff notes version of their lives.

What is the story of N.W.A? I’m not sure, and the movie certainty couldn’t decide. Instead we get a bunch of mini-stories. Most of these are taken straight out of the biopic playbook, and so read cliché as hell. But with a lot of these we just get the setup without any development or catharsis. No payoff. None of it builds together.

The most potent part of this story, to me at least, is about “Fuck tha Police.” That’s the song that really resonates, that they seem really emotionally invested in, and the only one that the movie establishes as having a real connection with people. It’s also still hugely relevant today, which is incredibly fucked up. But as the guys get older and richer, it just passes by, becoming just another moment in the movie’s checklist.

One of the strengths of N.W.A’s work is how real it felt. “Our art is a reflection of our reality.” The story of N.W.A was already told by themselves through their music. Between “Fuck tha Police” and “No Vaseline” you’ve honestly got most of the story that’s worth seeing here, or at least what I found particularly compelling. The movie never lives up to those works, it just rides their coattails.

Which are honestly not bad coattails to ride. As much I do have strong criticisms for this movie, I still enjoyed my time for the most part, because the material is strong. Also, O’Shea Jackson Jr. gives kind of an unbelievably good performance as his dad Ice Cube. The movie doesn’t fail to make me care about N.W.A, I just think they were great and important enough to deserve a better movie.

The movie plays it safe. It’s getting some criticism for not depicting Dr. Dre’s abuse of women, which I mostly bring up because there is a moment where it looks like it’s getting close to touching it, but then you just feels the hand of another writer swooping in and the conversation veers 180 degrees. In the moment it made me laugh. And frankly I wouldn’t mind the director deciding there wasn’t a place for that in his movie, if the movie were about anything other than just the history, but it isn’t.

To me, the movie is too much about hitting the bullet points of their lives, and not the greatness and impact of their work. Instead the arc we get is them rising to wealth slower and less successfully than they should have because of getting dicked around on the business end, and then Eazy-E dies of AIDS. The end.