On one incredible night in 1964, four icons of sports, music, and activism gathered to celebrate one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. When underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali, (Eli Goree), defeats heavyweight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Clay memorialized the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).
A movie that brings together a few of the most recognizable voices and faces known in human history is sure to be an entertaining movie, that is, if the script work is up to par. Gratefully, One Night in Miami was written by Kemp Powers, who hasn’t been working in the industry for that long as of right now, but he has already made quite the name for himself thanks to his writing credits on Star Trek: Discovery as well as the latest Disney-Pixar effort Soul.
One Night in Miami is the type of movie where the dialogue is the most important aspect of it all. There really isn’t any major conflict in this movie and there really isn’t a concrete story that viewers can grasp onto. While this, unfortunately, does make the movie feel like it has a big lack of focus, its strengths lie deep within its writing and the dialogue that is shared between these fictionalized versions of Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke.
Those names are quite easily some of the most recognizable names in our history, and many of us have spent plenty of time in school learning about these people and what they stood for. But what screenwriter Kemp Powers and director Regina King wanted to do was dream up a scenario of what they would discuss if the four of them ever met and were close friends.
And as you can probably expect, the conversation these four have is deeply interesting and full of emotion, and the strive for better days ahead. But in order for these conversations to be as meaningful and as thought-provoking as possible, this film has to boast some truly incredible actors that are up for this extreme challenge, and thankfully, this film boasts exactly that type of cast.
Kingsley Ben-Adir and Eli Goree in particular are show-stopping in this film, delivering powerful line after powerful line, and by the end of the film, I truly felt attached to them, as well as the rest of the characters.
One Night in Miami doesn’t always feel like a movie with a lot of striking force, mainly due to the fact that the whole concept is based around a conversation. It’s just a really good thing that this conversation is one that is hugely important and tremendously important today.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout
Directed by: Regina King
Distributed by: Amazon Studios
Release Date: December 25, 2020
Running Time: 114 minutes