In February of 1996, Tupac unleashed All Eyez On Me, a fiery, hostile double-disc that found the rapper-actor luxuriating in his role as the bad guy. Full of threats and war-ready posturing, Pac reveled in being America’s public enemy number one; America had always treated him as persona non grata to begin with. “My attitude is fuck it, ‘cause motherfuckers love it,” he rapped on "Ambitionz Az A Ridah." Pac was declarative—you will say hello to the bad guy.
That same year, Pac carried that same bloodlust to the silver screen in the crime thriller Bullet, also starring Mickey Rourke. The film features one of Pac’s most over-the-top performances in his filmography. He plays Tank, a Brooklyn drug kingpin who seeks revenge against Bullet after loyalties are betrayed amid a turf war.
As a heavy, Tank is cartoonish, thinly drawn, and comes and goes throughout the movie. He wears an eye-patch and gaudy chains that make him look like a mixture of Slick Rick and Snake Plissken from Escape From New York. But Pac uses his minimal screen time to maximum effect. He manages to ground this caricature of a villain—one who uses a little kid as a human shield during a shoot-out—in an authenticity that is equal parts ferocious and funny. Pac is clearly having a blast in this role. It’s a testament to his charisma and commanding presence that in a film featuring Rourke, Adrian Brody, and Peter Dinklage, all eyes really were on Pac. —Erik Abriss