Following in the footsteps of “La Bamba” & “Selena” comes another biopic film about a musical artist who was taken from us way too soon. Directed by George Tillman Jr., the 2009 film, “Notorious”, stars Jamal Woolard as the man who truly was, larger than life. While his mother knew him as Christopher Wallace, the world knew him as Biggie Smalls a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. This film takes place in Brooklyn, where we see young Christopher Wallace before he became The Notorious B.I.G.
The film starts out with Biggie about to get murdered on the streets of Los Angeles & works its way backwards, bringing us back to an adolescent Christopher Wallace (played by Biggie’s real life son, Christopher Jordan Wallace). The film then forwards us to an adult Christopher Wallace (played by Jamal Woolard) growing up with his mother Voletta (played by Angela Bassett). Christopher, wanting to make easy cash, starts becoming a drug dealer. However, he decides to give it up in order to become a rapper. He signs on with Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs’ label, Bad Boy Records. He has a friendship with Tupac Shakur, which turns sour after Shakur is shot, believing that Biggie set him up. The friction only gets worse as they encounter each other at The Source awards where his one time friend, is now his enemy. After Shakur’s death, this causes Biggie to want to head to Los Angeles in order to squash the so called, ‘East Coast/West Coast’ war. During his time in L.A., he starts getting death threats via his cell phone. Unfortunately, this would not be the happy ending Biggie was hoping for.
One aspect of the film which I liked was the editing. For a 2 hour movie, this film has done an excellent squeezing nearly ever major event which occurred during Biggie’s short, 24 year life. For example, we see his tumultuous relationships with Lil’ Kim & Faith Evans. We also get to see how signing with Bad Boy Records literally saved his life.
The other aspect of the film which I enjoyed was the acting & in particular, the way Jamal Woolard ‘brought Biggie back to life’ for this movie. He had the character down perfectly. Not only does he look like him, but the way he talked in the movie, sounded like him. When they are doing the concert & he is sitting in the chair with a suit, cane, & sunglasses, the resemblance to Biggie is remarkable. Instead of lip-syncing, he does his own rapping in this film, which is simply incredible.
I thought this movie was excellent. As I previously stated, I thought Jamal Woolard did a phenomenal job of portraying Biggie. I think any fan of Biggie would be happy with this film. Unfortunately, with the good also comes the bad. First of all, he was never able to see the release of his album, Life After Death, as he was shot & killed before it was released. Second, he was shot & killed March 9, 1997, 2 months & 12 days short of what would have been his 25th birthday. Third, as was the case of Tupac Shakur, nobody knows who exactly killed Biggie Smalls or why. To this day, the murders of Tupac Shakur as well as The Notorious B.I.G. are both unsolved. R.I.P. Tupac Shakur & Notorious B.I.G.