Notorious is the true story of Christopher Wallace (Jamal Woolard) from his hard-knocked life growing up in Brooklyn without a father...to his legendary adult life as Notorious B.I.G. Hip hop's first biofilm begins its chronicle shortly before that mysterious night when a gunman rolled up on Biggie and opened fire. As his life flashes before his eyes...the bio stops on 10 year old Christopher Wallace and proceeds from there. From his early life, young Christopher always loomed large...and had an imposing personality. Yet, while young Christopher was large on the outside...he was troubled on the inside. Growing up in Brooklyn, Christopher, only saw one way to survive...hustling.
With no direction or guidance...it didn't take long for Chris to end up in a jail cell. This, however, was a blessing in disguise. With little to do, he began writing his story and views on paper as songs. Shortly after his release, Chris is introduced to Sean "Puffy" Combs (Derek Luke) but unlike Jamal Woolard's portrayal of Biggie Small...Derek Luke never captures or convinces the viewer of his role...likewise with Anthony Mackie as 2Pac. The female roles, on the other hand, Antonique Smith as Faith Hill and Naturi Naughton as Lil' Kim, capture both the style and persona of their real life counterparts.
Fans of the industry will find the violence and hunger of the hip hop world inspirational and destructive as Notorious takes you on an unapologetic tour of the life and death of hip hop's brightest stars. But outside of that..Notorious has very little appeal. It fails to truly capture the larger-than-life B.I.G. and the character flaws of the supporting cast add little to the film. The film also fails to develop the East Coast-West Coast rap war in any significant way...and portrays Biggie's death as an unfortunate accident. If you aren't a fan of the genre there really isn't much here that would entice you to watch it...and that's a shame...as Jamal Woolard's portrayal is as large as the man he is portraying.