Terry Hunter reviews ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI

The new Amazon movie, ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI, is a stirring, well acted drama about the night in 1964 when football legend, Jim Brown, activist Malcom X, singer Sam Cooke, and boxer Cassius Clay got together to celebrate Clay’s upset victory over Sonny Liston that made him “the heavyweight champion of the world.” We don’t know what the men said to each other that evening, but playwright Kemp Powers created a fictional version of what the evening might have been like. The resulting stage play won prizes in 2013 and now Powers has adapted it for this movie. The four famous friends are in high spirits when they meet in the modest hotel suite of Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, by far the most radical of the group. Eli Goree as Clay (who was soon to change his name to Muhammed Ali) is the most exuberant of the four men; Leon Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke is the most polished, and Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown exudes a strong, calm energy. Expecting to party the night away, Clay, Cooke, and Brown are disappointed when Malcolm wants to talk seriously about how they can all contribute to the cause of Black Power. And so for much of this rousing film, the four engage in a fierce debate over how best to use their celebrity status to help African Americans achieve equality. The arguments get heated and little agreement is reached, but we see that all of them do what they can in their own ways. It’s sobering to realize that the kind of discrimination these men battled half a century ago is still going on today. (Directed by Oscar winning actress Regina King)

Terry Hunter reviews ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI