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F. Gary Gray in Talks to Direct N.W.A Movie: Is This a Good Idea?

N.W.A. sans Cube / Janette Beckman/Redferns

Veteran film director F. Gary Gray is in talks to direct the long-awaited N.W.A biopic due from New Line, Straight Outta Compton, and according to Hollywood Reporter, beat out John Singleton, George Tillman, and Elgin James. You may know Gray’s work from big-budget, $100-million-grossing blockbusters like Law Abiding Citizen and The Italian Job, but we’ll always know him as the guy who directed classic-among-classics Friday, still painfully unacknowledged by the National Film Registry. Is he the man for the job?

Well, in his favor, the film is being co-produced by Ice Cube himself, who Gray has worked with extensively on Friday and the post-N.W.A classic “It Was a Good Day” music video. Gray has been up close and personal with N.W.A’s Dr. Dre too, directing the demonic “Natural Born Killaz” video and the Michael Bay-leaning clip for “Keep Their Heads Ringing.” All of which is to say is Gray has had a really good rapport with these dudes after N.W.A had broken up. He’s proven himself more than capable of forward-thinking, widescreen ’90s music videos (the man did TLC’s VMA-stealing “Waterfalls” too) and modern-day blow-outs, but can he — and will he — capture the essence of 1989, a time when the look of everything was grittier, hues weren’t as deep, and the best lighting you could expect from a rap video was the California sunshine, not the inside of an airplane hangar? Basically, if he tries to make N.W.A look like the deep-blue something of Law Abiding Citizen, we are fucked. If he can tap into his inner 1989 — a time when Gray was a teenager and probably very focused on film — for some Drive-style revisionism, we might get the first good rap biopic &#8212 ever (Beat Street is a fantastic work of fiction, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was drab like a Joel Schumacher film, and the less said about Notorious the better.)

In the meantime, watch this classic F. Gary Gray video and imagine him turning the wayback machine four years…