One Night in Miami Review: Masterful Storytelling

I am not a political person. I don’t enjoy politics in any sense. That said, One Night in Miami isn’t really a political movie. While it tackles (pun intended) some of the topics that people from the 60s endured, specifically African Americans, One Night in Miami dives deeper into the famed night of February 25, 1964. The directional debut of Regina King went off without a hitch.

The advertising did me in on this movie. Being obsessed with Muhammad Ali, seeing the trailer featuring a then-Cassius Clay hooked me immediately. I looked over at my wife and told her, “I HAVE to watch that.” After seeing the movie, I’m completely glad I did.

One Night in Miami: Tough Topics Executed Perfectly

First thing that really caught my attention in One Night in Miami was the spot on dialect Eli Goree had when portraying a young Cassius Clay. The cadence, phrases used, and all were absolutely perfect. “I told them I’ll whoop him,” was delivered perfectly from Goree.

Then, my gut was wrenched out of my body with Jim Brown and meeting his character the first time. Brown was by far the best player in the NFL. He is back in his home town, down south, and he’s meeting with a family “friend.” The two have a great conversation on the porch over some lemonade. I won’t spoil what happened but if you watched the movie you know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you are planning on watching the movie, you’ll know immediately.

The story kicks off after Clay defeated Sonny Liston to claim the heavyweight title for the first time. Clay and his then friend, Malcom X, were already close and invited Jim Brown and Sam Cooke back to a hotel room for a “party.” Much to Cooke and Brown’s disdain, it wasn’t a party but a meeting. History tells us this is when Clay would change his name to Cassius X and eventually Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam.

Malcom X is looking for recruits for his cause. While he is not looking to really convert Cooke and Brown, per se, he does want the two to take a larger role in the movement for equal rights in the black community. Cooke is the main character to object. 

Eventually, the point comes across to Brown and Cooke. They don’t really need to be adherent to what the white man is asking for them, as pointed out by Malcom X. The movie does a good job touching on all the important stuff that transpired after, albeit with a bit of creative liberty, which is okay. The liberties taken by director King were tasteful and made the movie better.

Criticisms of One Night in Miami

While I rate One Night in Miami very high, there were a few things I could point out but if I am being completely honest, they are incredibly nit picky. For one, the boxing of Clay didn’t really align with how Ali traditionally boxed. There was trash talking in the ring which was very Clay-like and even the Ali shuffle. But the overall feel of Clay was more of a brawler than a fast, stick-and-jab type boxer. But, the movie isn’t really about boxing and the boxing scenes from the movie were still very well done. 

Malcom X holding Sam Cooke’s feet to the fire, comparing his past music to Bob Dylan’s, specifically “Blowin’ In the Wind” was a nice touch. After the night, according to the movie, Cooke would go on to write “A Change is Gonna Come.” But, in reality, “A Change is Gonna Come” was already written in December of 1963, two months before Clay would beat Liston and meet with the three on February 25th. As a matter of fact, “A Change is Gonna Come” was released as a single on February 7th. While this is reaching and nit picky, it’s an inconsistency. But this is one of the liberties that the director took and made the movie better with.

Overall Thoughts on One Night In Miami

The movie is fantastic, I will not deny that. As for the 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, I wouldn’t go that far. The movie moved me and made me think about race issues and how much pain the Civil Rights leaders went through to simply become equals, which is the movie’s point.

With such few and inconsequential criticisms, I believe the movie is an 8/10, which is fantastic. There is some language and sexual themes that make the movie a little out of the league for kids, but the story is an important one and needed to be told. Regina King did that, and made a masterpiece.

Check out One Night in Miami on Amazon Prime! Click the link below!


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