On February 25, 1964, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, and Cassius Clay (before using the name Muhammad Ali), gathered in a hotel room to celebrate Clay’s success in winning the world title of heavyweight boxing. In fact, several other people joined in, but in the name of the dramatization, One Night in Miami, which is an adaptation of a stage script of the same title by Kemp Powers (Soul), only included the four of them. Four legends, four larger than life figures, which in Regina King’s directorial debut, were humanized while maintaining the mythology of each character. Top Movie Site
The meeting was true, but no one knows for sure what conversation took place. One Night in Miami imagines that on that night, Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) gathered his three friends, to convince them to be more actively involved in upholding black rights. This was the point where Malcolm began to doubt the leadership of the Nation of Islam, so he intended to leave and then set up a new organization. As a result, he also needs support from other big names.
Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) is definitely the perfect figure for that. Clay himself was firmly embraced by Islam, even before the match, he had time to pray with Malcolm, as a way to calm down. That’s also the reason Malcolm invited Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), who is known as one of the best NFL athletes of all time, and Sam “King of Soul” Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) whose works top the charts. Thinking they were going to attend a celebratory party, of course they were surprised to learn of Malcolm’s intentions, so debate after debate broke out.
One Night in Miami didn’t really find a footing until the four friends got involved in a chat on the rooftop. Malcolm, who at first looks like a nerdy man who worries that his three “wild” friends will damage his new camera, starts to become more aggressive. Especially for Cooke, who according to Malcolm, had the strongest platform to voice the struggle of blacks, but instead chose to play it safe to satisfy the tastes of white listeners. Prior to this moment, the film seemed to have difficulty determining the focus, because there was no path that regulated the direction of the conversation. Movie Review
After that, the intensity never slacked off. The four protagonists share perspectives on many things related to “trust”. Both spiritual belief, and belief in each other’s roles in the fight against racism, automatically nudge belief in the “purpose”, which is also the subject of Powers in the Soul. However, the context of the “purpose” in this film is more specific.
The Powers script humanizes its four characters, does not cult them, by making critical statements that the public may never dare to make clearly. Did Clay embrace Islam from the heart? Did Cooke “prostitute” himself to white skin? But the most daring decision was to flick Malcolm’s extreme views. The twitching is accompanied by an attempt to understand the reasons behind each perspective and choice. Malcolm is just a human being shrouded in fear, on the other hand, Cooke is not that ignorance. “If the goal is for us to be free, to be REALLY free, then the key is economic freedom”, said Brown, commenting on Malcolm’s “attack” on Cooke. None of the four is perfect, but neither is it wrong.
King’s directing is full of power that gives a burst of debate, as well as the sensitivity to wrap up more intimate moments. The four actors radiate the same energy. Goree has Clay’s arrogance, as well as his signature “dance” in the ring; Ben-Adir understands the complexities of a Malcolm X (if you think he is fit for Barack Obama, yes, Ben-Adir was the 44th president of the United States in the miniseries The Comey Rule); Odom Jr. bringing Sam Cooke’s charm to life onstage (no surprise, as he is a Broadway actor, including his portrayal of Aaron Burr in Hamilton stage and film versions); Hodge, with his charisma and deep voice, is perfect as an “anchor” figure, voice of reason, a great midnight counterweight. Best Movie