A good film in many ways, but its best achievement is the casting of Jamal Woolard, a rapper named Gravy, in the title role.
Notorious makes the death of Biggie Smalls look like a tragic mistake, instead of the outgrowth of a culture devoted to selling the fantasy of who's the biggest man.
Though there was little surprise by the end--how could there be?--Notorious,' a movie about the life and death of rapper Christopher Wallace (a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G., a.k.a. Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. Biggie), still managed to stun, unsettle and move me.
The Hollywood Reporter
For a man apparently making his first film, Woolard carries the movie like a pro. Cross your fingers that this is no fluke, for this guy could be a real comer.
A rock-solid biopic with a foolproof rise-and-fall storyline and a warmly nuanced performance by Jamal Woolard.
It's the spirit that Biggie Smalls, born Christopher Wallace, put into inventing himself and his music that ignites Notorious, a biopic that sees the flaws in the man but can't help accentuating the positive.
It's an engaging enough story, crisply told, and the lip-synced music scenes in the studio and on stage are brought off in high style.
The A.V. Club
Notorious suffers from biopic-itis, that regrettable tendency to reduce complicated lives to a greatest-hits assemblage of melodramatic highs and agonizing lows.
Notorious, despite its bigger-than-life subject and habit of dripping sex sweat at the most unexpected moments, is rather square.
Bassett as Voletta is her usual captivating self.