Continuing the pairing of primarily attitude-free—or, at least, attitude-abated—filmmakers with attitude-having gangster rap crew N.W.A., director F. Gary Gray has withdrawn from the Captain America 2 race to direct Straight Outta Compton, and bring to New Line’s long-gestating N.W.A. biopic the same unfussy, serviceable skills he contributed to movies like Law-Abiding Citizen and Set It Off. Of course, a more apt reference from Gray’s career here would probably be Friday, as this project represents a reunion for Gray and Ice Cube—a reunion Cube was apparently more interested in than one with another contender, Boyz N The Hood’s John Singleton, which maybe says something about where Cube’s head is at these days, in case you haven’t been listening.
There's certainly been an aura of surprisingly relaxed, feel-good vibes around the project already, what with World Trade Center writer Andrea Berloff drafting the script—one that hopefully doesn’t similarly reduce violent, controversial history to safe sentimentality—and Cube recently saying that all the surviving members of N.W.A. are now contributing rewrites, presumably by submitting doodles of Jerry Heller with little devil horns. So, in the spirit of resolving their acrimonious past, it seems unlikely that the film is going to get as “Eazy’s dick is smellin’ like MC Ren’s shit” ruthless as a version that wasn’t approved by committee might have been—or now, one helmed by a guy without much of a directorial voice. But hey, maybe our premature fears of this treading more and more toward VH1 docudrama territory are unfounded. And if not, like we keep saying, we already sort-of have an N.W.A. movie.