Most people who listen to rap know Christopher Wallace as his rapping alter ego – The Notorious B.I.G. Few of the people who buy his albums and anything connected to him know the real person underneath. Notorious, directed by George Tillman, Jr, gives us Christopher Wallace before and after his infamous rap career took off. The film overall is a little too fast, yet when it stops, it allows you to be drawn into the world of a man few knew behind the scenes.I personally loved the earlier scenes showing Wallace as a child (portrayed by his real-life son Christopher Jordan Wallace). I wanted to see more of his childhood. What is given to the audience is almost a blip of his younger life. I think to understand and ultimately care about someone you don’t know, you have to be able to get inside their minds. The film's creators must have thought people’s minds work at light-speed.When the film goes into the later years with Jamal Wallace taking over as Christopher, the film becomes a bit of a bullet-point presentation. We see his first attempts at becoming a rapper, his first meeting with Puffy and his relationships with Faith Evans and Lil’Kim. It kinda whizzes all by you without any time to take it all in.
Jamal Woolard surprised me with how good he was as the older Christopher Wallace. He sounds like him, acts like him and raps like him (although his rapping voice is hard to match). I believe had he been given more scenes of Biggie’s world outside of the music biz, he could have sealed an Oscar for his performance.Angela Bassett does fine as Voletta Wallace. Some may question whether she was the right choice as she doesn’t completely sound as Jamaican as the real Voletta. Still, she is one of the strongest actresses in Hollywood and showcases it in every part she gets.Antonique Smith and Nautri Naughton do well in the rather underwritten parts of Faith Evans (Christopher Wallace's wife) and Lil’Kim, a woman who would through Biggie’s help would start a rap career. If I were to pick a good performance out of the two, I would say Smith gives the better of the two despite the little she is given to do. I will say this – you’ll never have to worry about Antonique Smith getting jacked in Brooklyn. When she beats the hell out of someone – it looks almost real. Ms. Smith probably took a lot of “beating the crap out of someone” classes. If I'd been the white woman she beats to a pulp I would become a monk immediately.