NEVER 2 BIG concerns itself with an interesting subject matter-- recording industry politics--but never rises above the ordinary in plot, characterization, or style.
Freddy (Shemar Moore) is a hip, young African-American record executive who works for 8 Ball (Ernie Hudson), the powerful head of Rhythm Records in Los Angeles. When Freddy's vocalist sister, Blusette, returns from drug rehab, Freddy hopes to get her to sign on again for another album with his
company; but Blusette's disgust for 8 Ball's controlling ways forces her to quit.
Soon after Blusette leaves 8 Ball, Freddy finds her dead from an apparent drug overdose in their home. But after letting 8 Ball and his henchmen try to help him deal with the tragedy, Freddy begins suspecting that his boss killed his sister in an attempt to boost sales. When Freddy's police
officer friend, Dexter (Terrence Howard), doubts Freddy's theory, Freddy hides out in the home of a waitress, Carmen Jones (Nia Long), he has recently met. Meanwhile, 8 Ball sends out one of his thugs, Benzo Al (Tony Todd), to kill Freddy and Carmen.
Just as Freddy becomes a police suspect in Blusette's murder, he breaks into 8 Ball's office, where he finds evidence that confirms his suspicion that 8 Ball has been bootlegging his own records and putting the extra profits into offshore accounts. In revenge, Freddy transfers the money into a
private account. But 8 Ball demands his money back by kidnapping Carmen. While trying to rescue Carmen, Freddy discovers that Rick Damon (Donnie Wahlberg), a lawyer trying to buy out Rhythm Records, was responsible for Blusette's murder, because her refusal to sign on devalued the company. In the
end, a shootout takes the lives of 8 Ball, Rick, and all the thugs. Freddy and Carmen are therefore left free to build up their own record company and start a family.
Someday, the violent deaths of rap artists like Tupac Shakur will inspire an interesting noir thriller, but NEVER 2 BIG doesn't make it as that. Though set in the urban music world of L.A., NEVER 2 BIG uses the murder of a female rhythm-and-blues singer as an excuse for an overly involved plot and
a lot of familiar-looking action. (Don't expect much commentary on racial or gender politics, either.) Most disappointingly, the film cries out for guest appearances by contemporary music stars, or at least a substantial soundtrack of decent R & B, but the few famous faces (George Clinton, Russell
Simmons) are seen and not heard in an early party sequence and the soundtrack is meager in quantity and generic in quality.
NEVER 2 BIG does contain a fun supporting performance by Ernie Hudson as the cruel, overbearing 8 Ball, an acceptable lead performance by Shemar Moore (in his film debut) as the "wrong-man" hero, and some decent production values (for a straight-to-video release). Morbidly curious viewers may also
want to check out the dwindling career fortunes of supporting player Donnie Wahlberg (once of New Kids on the Block, but looking ragged here), who seems to be straining to compete with his more talented brother, Mark Wahlberg (BOOGIE NIGHTS, 1997), as a serious actor. (Violence, adult situations,substance abuse, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1998
- Review: NEVER 2 BIG concerns itself with an interesting subject matter-- recording industry politics--but never rises above the ordinary in plot, characterization, or style. Freddy (Shemar Moore) is a hip, young African-American record executive who works for 8 B… (more)