I wanted to appreciate this movie more. And maybe if I had watched it at the beginning of my ‘One Night in Miami’ phase, it would have been more impactful. But for a movie about Muhammad Ali, I was surprised by how little it actually portrayed.
I had seen interviews with Ali before and was struck by how… simple he seemed. In truth Ali only had an IQ of about 78. Which does not take away from what made him iconic. But what that fact informs for me is why he spoke with no filter. Trash talking without a thought for any consequences. But it was also his brash and loud nature that made him stand out.
His low IQ also informs, for me, his… mutability? He was influenced into the Nation of Islam, becoming a face for them, and parroting their teachings, despite the fact that in essence, the teachings of the Nation of Islam ran very contrary to his own personal morales and beliefs.
Ali was a lover. Of everyone. While the murder of Emmett Till greatly effected him and he fought for black rights, he loved everyone. And this film did not even toe that aspect. Case and point, he had 4 wives, countless infidelities, and some 11 children.
And while people argue that his IQ meant nothing, he was smart in the ring. They talk about how he moved in such a unique way that opponents couldnt even touch him. The only strategy the movie portrayed was patience and endurance. In multiple fights, the strategy appeared to be: tire the opponent out, then punch him really hard.
This was 3 hours of my life, and I am not trying to say this was a bad movie. Misleading, maybe. Malcolm X was a big influence on Ali’s life, and we barely see their relationship at all. Ali became a huge civil rights movement activist. Will Smith’s performance of Ali was outstanding, it would have been impressive to see even one of his talks at a university, advocating for human rights.
I guess what I mean is, there was so much more to Muhammad Ali than just his boxing, and this film did him a disservice by leaving that out.