Malcolm X. Sam Cooke. Jim Brown. Muhammad Ali. Four legends together on one legendary night. That’s where we’re taken in One Night In Miami, which presents a story that is relevant for both its historical context, alongside the contemporary messages that it delves into in its presentation.
On the night of Feb. 25, 1964, in Miami, Cassius Clay joins Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X, and they discuss the responsibility of being successful black men during the civil rights movement.
Academy Award-winning actress Regina King makes her directorial debut with One Night In Miami and crafts a story that is powerful in both its history and incredibly timely in its contemporary relevance. Adapting the one-act play by Kemp Powers, King takes audiences into a defining moment in the lives of four young black men, who also happen to be leaders in their community and who are trying to find a renewed sense of purpose in their lives in a turbulent era. Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Cassius Clay, who is soon to be named Muhammad Ali, as he transitions to the Nation of Islam, join together after Clay’s defeat of Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964, for a discussion of what it means to be a leader, a friend and a man. And it’s here where things get interesting.
While we might think we know all these legends, King and Powers present four incredibly different men, with four incredibly different opinions who are all trying to make their way in a changing world. King does a great job in realising the power of Powers’ one-act play and builds out a fast screen rhythm as these four men come together in the wake of Clay’s historic victory to discuss his conversion to Islam. But soon the very meaning of their path to success, money, freedom and what their own opinions of what it means to be a leader as a young black man is questioned in this powerful narrative.
King has selected a terrific cast in bringing to life these four legendary individuals, casting Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke, Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown and Eli Goree as Muhammad Ali. Each of these young actors feeds of the performance of the other and notions of friendship and loyalty are affected by each of their difference of opinion in the changing times in which they live. Each actor is completely his own character and each brings a unique energy to their roles that keeps you engaged fully throughout the narrative. Particular attention has to be levelled on the performances of Ben-Adir, Odom Jr and Hodge due to their commitment that they bring to their roles.
One Night In Miami captures a unique time in America’s history with an engaging narrative and unique perspective that is conveyed by its subject matter. It’s a film that is quick on its feet and for audiences wanting to see history come to life, it makes for a great watch.
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