Film Review: Juice WRLD: Into the Abyss (dir. Tommy Oliver)

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Juice WRLD: Into the Abyss is the fifth and final documentary from HBO’s Music Box series of docs. Sadly, Into the Abyss couldn’t be a more fitting title for this Juice WRLD documentary. It’s also appropriate considering the fact that he had the words tattooed in large writing on both of his forearms. Charting the rise of his massively successful career, it also subsequently charts his downfall and demise as his drug use gets more and more intense.

I really appreciated how this didn’t play into the formulaic “an artist or an actor died, so we made a documentary full of interviews talking about how great they were.” They used clips of Juice WRLD in action doing what he loved to show and tell what made him such a great artist, as well as interviews from his closest confidantes and collaborators to reinforce those points.

Starting off with a segment featuring Juice free-styling, the audience gets to see him doing what he does best firsthand. For someone who spent most of their life walking around spitting free-styles and constantly recording raps, it’s no wonder that he has so much unreleased music.

The structure of the documentary bounces back and forth between live performances of his hit songs and the preparation to get to the next stage (literally) of his career.

His biggest hit to date, “Lucid Dreams,” got the special treatment when it came to how they framed its live performance as they mashed up multiple live performances showing the crowds getting bigger and bigger and louder and louder. Other songs that got the special live treatment include “Black and White,” “Armed and Dangerous,” “Legends,” “Fast,” “Sexual Healing,” “Lean Wit Me,” and “Robbery.”

Every time there is a new Juice WRLD song heard or performed, they put a marker in the corner with the total number of streams the song has, which makes it all the more impressive to see the increasingly large statistics. I found it really cool how they paired up the freestyle/songwriting process with some of his biggest and best live shows and performances.

Tommy Oliver rounded up some of Juice WRLD’s most frequent collaborators and closest friends for the doc, so we get to see one-on-one interviews with The Kid LAROI, Polo G, Benny Blanco, Cole Bennett, ILoveMakonnen, G Herbo, Rex Ludo, Lil Bibby, DJ Scheme, Ski Mask, Mike P, and Chris Long. There are also short appearances from the likes of Young Thug, Tyler, The Creator, and Big Boy.

One interview in particular that I’m sure the blogs are going to pick up is The Kid LAROI’s one-on-one sit-down in which he details the events that took place as Juice WRLD had his fatal seizure when they landed the private jet. It is especially emotional, and it feels so gut wrenching to hear his firsthand account of what went down in Juice WRLD’s final moments.

Future notably denied a request to be featured in the doc, according to this tweet from director Tommy Oliver:

There is an especially funny moment in the documentary that shows off Juice WRLD’s sense of humor when he makes up a very in-depth story about how he met his girlfriend in law school. He is essentially free-styling the story just like he would a song, so it makes sense he would be good at coming up with it on his feet.

We really get to see his artistry when he’s playing the guitar in a clip recording a new song. He revealed that the name of his next album would be Outsiders, but that project never came to be. Juice then plays the song, “Too Many.”

Diehard Juice WRLD stans will be especially excited to see behind-the-scenes clips with him recording songs like “Sometimes,” an unreleased track, in the studio. There are also some great BTS looks from the video shoot for “Robbery” directed by Lyrical Lemonade mastermind Cole Bennett.

Tracking the ongoing rise of his success, it’s easy for us to sit back and point out things that should have been warning signs or causes of concern, but that isn’t the purpose of this documentary. As a fan on the outside looking in, this could be a challenging watch, but if you were someone in his immediate circle, I’m sure there would be scenes you could never see without getting extremely emotional.

Juice WRLD: Into the Abyss is now streaming on HBO Max.

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