The winning conceit of producer/director Lauren Lazin's flamboyant documentary about the life of Tupac Shakur is that the late rapper's voice is the primary source the audience hears. Yet the dulcet tones that Tupac speaks in, go only a short distance in disguising the self obsessed torment that the charismatic artist wore on his sleeve. With the help of Tupac's mother Afeni Shakur, Lauren Lazin (VP of News and Docs at MTV) has compiled a wealth of home videos, photographs and letters from private collections, along with in-depth interviews, scenes from Tupac's movies and concert footage, to give insight into the tragic icon's explosive life. Tupac's past tense delivery gives a ghostly quality to the documentary, as when he reflects on being shot as something he always knew would happen, or when he talks of knowing that he would eventually go to jail. The movie is a riveting document of a conflicted artist unable to escape the violent confines of '90s rap culture in spite of his promising efforts as a film actor.
Rated R. 115 mins. (B) (Three Stars)