Fictionalizing an incredible night in 1964 when four friends, luminaries who later become legends, gathered to celebrate boxing’s biggest night. A young, up-and- coming athlete, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) won the heavyweight champ title from Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Center, and taking the world by storm. There to witness the victory and support their friend, were singing sensation, Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom, Jr.), college football hall of famer, Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and a young social justice leader called Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir).
Being the year that it was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, and Malcolm X being the dedicated Muslim and passionate activist that he was, the conversations between the four friends go from fun and frivolous, to heated, pointed and inspired. The fact that Clay would be using the national spotlight of his victory to announce his conversion to Muslim and changing his name to Muhammad Ali, increases the already heated exchanges between the characters. In all, they were faced with what would be their individual roles in the movement and for history. Their discussions from over 50 years ago, resonate today, with contemporary issues of race and systemic racism in America.
Based on a play by Kemp Powers who also adapted it for the screen, the movie has the look and feel of a play, which depending on your sensibilities, can either be a good thing or less appealing. For this, Oscar winning actress, Regina King delivers an impressive directorial debut. She keeps the focus narrow, in context of shots and angles, as well as regarding themes and dialogue. Most of the movie, rich in deep tones, takes place in a couple small interior locations, and the supporting cast is nominal but noticeable, including Beau Bridges. The performances throughout are believable and powerful. All four actors hold their own and then some, but Ben-Adir as Malcom X and Goree as Clay, are stand outs. Between the portrayals of these iconic figures, and the deeply moving dialogue, “One Night in Miami” is definitely worth a night of viewing for audiences of all ages.
This film will be available for streaming soon on Amazon Prime.
Director: Regina King
Writer: Kemp Powers
Stars: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Leslie Odom, Jr., Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge
Runtime 110 min.
MPAA Rating: ?