In 1964, a brash new pro boxer, fresh from his olympic gold medal victory, explodes on to the scene, Cassius Clay. Bold and outspoken, he cuts an entirely new image for African Americans in sport with his proud public self confidence with his unapologetic belief that he is the greatest boxer of all time. To his credit, he sets out to prove that with his highly agile and forceful style soon making him a formidable boxer who soon claims the heavyweight championship. His personal life is no less noteworthy with his allegiance to the Nation of Islam, his friendship with the controversial Malcolm X and his abandonment of his slave name in favour of Muhammad Ali stirring up controversy. Yet, at the top of his game, both Ali's personal and professional lives face the ultimate test with the military draft rules are changed, making him eligible for military induction during the Vietnam War. Despite the fact that he could easily agree to a sweetheart deal that would have meant an easy tour of ... Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Deeply absorbing emotional trip 5/5 stars (Ali's jogging sequence in Afria will stab you in the heart with its emotionally wrenching revelation)
There are many critics out there who have given this film negative reviews on the basis that the film didn't succeed in giving the viewers a focused look at how significant and grand Ali was. I understand completely the motivations and arguments behind those negative reviews. However, I must say they misunderstood what the movie was trying to do. Because most thought Ali would be a standard bio-pic, the film was expected to cover a sprawling canvas of a larger-than-life figure of charisma known as Ali from childhood to present with deft focus on his life. This was NOT director Michael Mann's goal. Mann's ultimate objective, in my humble opinion, was to create an intimate portrait of a man whom the public saw only as a cultural icon. To give him a soul behind that grand persona. To reveal him as a fellow man among men; how he lived, how he behaved in his personal life, how he sat, how he looked, how he talked, every little insignificant moments of his life in the film were there to give the public an idea, a glimpse of him as a fellow human being and not as an icon or a symbol. That is why the movie was an absolute masterpiece. Although Will Smith's performance in the film was hypnotically amazing, I must say the real star of the movie for me was Michael Mann. From the first 10 minutes or so of the montage sequence in the beginning of the movie, Mann absorbed me right in with his achingly beautiful, intimate, and minimalistic photography and compositions. I still see the imagery in my head going on a loop and forcing me to play back the memorable images my eyes were exposed to as if they were photographic printing paper. The movie was so beautiful and poignant, I found myself weeping during the many moments of introspective scenes with Ali looking on towards the horizon or vacantly into nothingness as if internally struggling to find his identity. Before I stop myself in rambling on and on about how much I'm in love with this film and Michael Mann's directing style, I should note that there is a sequence in the movie where you won't resist in emotionally breaking down. The sequence in question is the jogging sequence in Africa where Ali runs past non-chalantly through a village and looks at children's murals on concrete walls of himself. I WILL NOT spoil this because I want you viewers to go through the same shock that I had.
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