This is a movie about the fictional meeting up of four popular, powerful Black men in the 1960’s during the heights of the Civil Rights Movement. Singer Sam Cooke, Football star athlete Jim Brown, Minister and Human Rights activist Malcolm X, are all in town to catch the Heavyweight fight of Cassius Clay, soon to be known as Muhammad Ali.
Each man is at a sort of crossroads in their path, it’s Malcolm’s idea that they get together and discuss what is going on in their lives right at this pivotal moment. This story unfolds as each of the men face these challenges with humor, heart, and truth about themselves.
When plays are adapted to motion pictures, there are different ways that it can be handled (Hamilton versus Jersey Boys come to mind), but it takes a real storyteller to understand the art of adaptation and keep a story compelling as it changes in formats. I definitely believe director Regina King embraced that spirit and really ran with it. Even though there are not that many settings here, this story is so open and vibrant, this feels like an original indie film. It’s gorgeous to look at and does not feel claustrophobic at all. Keeping a larger canvas in the beginning and the ending, helps with the scope.
The performances are beyond excellent here. Aldis Hodge is easily becoming one of my favorite working actors. His performance of Jim Brown is so powerful. Leslie Odom as Sam Cooke has SO many layers to his performance, watching him balance inbetween is wonderful. Kingsley Ben-Adir also has to display equal amounts of vulnerability and intensity to Malcolm X that I haven’t seen other actors get the chance to present. Lastly Eli Goree IS Muhammad Ali, period.
Although this is a fictional event, the truth to what these characters are speaking feels so authentic, you’ll feel like this had to have happened in some capacity. This is easily one of the best dramas in recent years.
4.5 out of 5
“Marquee Mark” Markellus