Movie Review – Ali (2001)

Will Smith plays the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in this biopic from Michael Mann. 

I’m not a boxing fan, but I do love boxing movies, and I tend to enjoy biopics. I’m also a big fan of Will Smith but this one didn’t quite hit the right notes for me. I’m not up on my boxing history so I only know the broad strokes of Ali’s career; I’m by no means an expert at all so I can’t comment on the movie’s accuracy. However, I can comment on the movie itself and all I can say is that for a boxer who seemed to pride himself on his speed it’s a surprise that the film about his life was so ponderous and moved at a leaden pace. 

I enjoyed seeing how his attitudes were formed and the reasons why he chose not to fight in Vietnam, his relationship with Islam, and how his trip to Africa affected him. I also thought Will Smith was great in the role but the film as a whole didn’t work for me. I felt like some things were still left unclear and a lot of this had to do with some technical issues. For some reason the audio mixing must have been off, because a lot of the dialogue was so quiet I could barely hear it. I don’t know if this was a conscious choice or not but I was straining to hear some of the characters. 

The other problem I have is that I just don’t find boxing that exciting, and generally the fights aren’t as exciting as they are in the movies. So in the climactic fight here didn’t feel as dramatic or as tense as they do in fictional films, and it didn’t help the laborious feeling. The parts I enjoyed the most were focused on his career, and I liked the friendship between him and Jon Voight’s character, but the rest of it was too slow and although I know a little bit more about Ali after watching this film I don’t feel that it gave a really deep insight, so I can’t put it up there with other great biopics. 

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