Rated NR

Michael Mann's portrait of the three-time heavyweight champion focuses on the period of Mohammad Ali's life that many viewers are already familiar with: from his title-winning fight with Sonny Liston to the "Rumble in the Jungle" with George Foreman. The fight scenes are dazzling, and Will Smith manages to sound and even look uncannily like Ali in and out of the ring, but with the camera so zoomed in at his and other actors' pores it is difficult for the viewer to get beyond the surface of Ali's footwork and quick litany to the sources of his movements and of his genius. Props, however, to Smith and Mann for the unflinching portrayal, in this era, of Ali the Muslim and his open criticism and defiance of the U.S. government in wartime. It's a moving film overall if you can tune out the heavy-handed soundtrack.


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