Ali (2001)

Proof of why you don’t fuck with Will Smith.

Michael Mann’s drama centers on the personal and professional lives of boxing legend Muhammad Ali (Will Smith), but brings with it an examination of the social and political issues during the decades in which he ruled the ring. From the early 1960s, through his anti-Vietnam War stance, to his epic title bouts with Liston, Frazier and Foreman, Ali stirred controversy and proved that he is, indeed, The Greatest.

This film actually surprised me at first. This film is directed by Michael Mann, who has directed action-thrillers The Insider, and Heat. But with this one he shows that he can actually direct a film without big explosions and guns shooting all over the place.

The film focuses on one of Ali’s most controversial periods of his life, 1962-1974. The film does show us all the sides of Ali, he was womanizer, and strong believer in faith, and most of all his relationships with Howard Cosell, played by Voight, and Malcom X, by Mario Van Peebles. The details of Ali’s life are packed all into this film, and the boxing scenes are actually shown in some great stylized ways.

The problem with this film is that there is so much about this character in real life, its hard to just cramp it all into a two-hour and thirty minute film. Also, plenty of scenes that didn’t need to be long seemed like they we’re going on forever. I liked how the boxing scenes played out like in real-time, but there are plenty of other scenes dealing with his personal life, that ran on too long.

The film lost me at points during this film too. I mean I was entertained for the most part at some scenes, but there were plenty of scenes that just all seemed mottled and put together just to make the screen-time longer. With the way the scenes are put together, most of this will get you glued to the screen but some parts will have you a bit bored.

With Will Smith playing Ali, here is my opinion. Smith does do a credible job of playing Ali, but the problem here is that he never really captures the body of him, more of just doing an elaborate impersonation. In fact there is so much real-life footage of Ali, that I feel like Smith was faced with a huge task by shadow-boxing a legend. Though I will give him credit, Smith makes a lot of these scenes very very emotional cause he actually does make you laugh, and understand Ali.

Consensus: Ali lost me at points with its long time limit of scenes that just don’t matter, and although Smith is good here as Ali, it doesn’t seem like he captured the whole essence of Ali.


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